Not long after “This American Life” devoted an entire episode to parsing all of monologuist Mike Daisey’s falsehoods, the show pulled three more episodes from its Web site — but it’s not as bad as it sounds.
The show removed three Stephen Glass stories from the 1990s. They had been taken down years ago when it was revealed Glass fabricated much of his work, but during a 2010 Web site redesign, they ended up back in the show’s online archive. No one noticed until the Daisey controversy.
Glass, you’ll recall, is the New Republic reporter who was fired in 1998 for fabricating stories. His story was the basis for the movie “Shattered Glass,” and he later wrote an autobiographical but invented book about his time at the New Republic called “The Fabulist.” “This American Life” announced that it was pulling his episodes in a blog post, after Poynter’s Steve Myers and Craig Silverman pointed out that they were in the archive.
Glass retold stories that he had written for other publications on the radio show, a common practice, the blog explains. They were about a FedEx shipment, an internship at Mount Vernon, and an experience working as a telephone psychic. Transcripts of Glass’ shows (he is not related to “This American Life” host Ira Glass) remain on the site with a disclaimer that the audio has been removed due to questions of accuracy.
“We transcribed and edited the tape he recorded (this was in the early days of our program; today we have enough producers that one of us would've gone with him) and now believe that all the recorded quotes he brought back are real, while the ones he didn't manage to record are probably fabrications,” the post said.
Many have equated Daisey with Glass, even though Daisey has stated throughout the fallout that he is not a journalist. Daisey continues to perform his monologue, but has excised the contested parts. "I'm sorry . . . I failed you," he recently said in a public apology and discussion at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre.