That’s ‘Life’

Man, that hourlong retraction from “This American Life” was a tough listen. I didn’t catch it all, but what I heard basically constituted every journalist’s nightmare: “You have fucked up, and been caught at it, and in failing to catch you ourselves we have fucked up. And now we are going to discuss our fraternal fucking up at length, in public.”

Anyone who has ever worked for “the media” has fucked up. It goes with the territory. You crank out a pile of word count, audio or video for the 24/7 news cycle it is not a question of if you will fuck up, but when, and how big. And it sure doesn’t help when one of your contributors decides to salt his or her work with a few fictions.

I no longer consider myself a journalist. I’ve rassled with school boards, cops and managing editors—the last of these is the worst—but back in the Eighties I abandoned the manly arts and took up sportswriting with a focus on cycling. And now I spend my workdays debating the voices in my head.

These days I call myself a rumormonger, because I mong rumors, whenever I’m not just flat making shit up. This is much easier than doing real journalism, or even pretending to.

And no one is outraged or even surprised when I say that Rick Santorum is an expert on pornography because he is a dildo, or Mitt Romney is the sort of robot that Microsoft would build, or that Apple makes its iPads out of Chinese babies.

• Late update: The New York Times’ David Carr addresses the issue at length, with more wit and fewer fucks.

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10 Responses to “That’s ‘Life’”

  1. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    You mean all that stuff needs to be TRUE before they include it? Man, you’re gonna destroy the ENTIRE Repuglican presidential campaign scheme! They got nothin’ but LIES.

  2. Jeff Cozad Says:

    I’ll be waiting to see if NPR’s “On The Media” weighs in ( I suspect that they will. It’s something that I listen to with great regularity and find fascinating.

  3. john Says:

    Vaguely related, but the Onion’s “Weekender” magazine had this priceless cover once; it shows a big, brawny lumberjack with an axe, glowering at the camera, and the headline is:

    “What can this lumberjack tell us about Ovarian Cancer?

    The photographer who fucked up his assignment better hope it’s plenty.”

  4. khalspencer Says:

    will this damn thing let me post?

  5. High Plains Drifters Says:

    kinda sorta funny that the big anti-Apple story was TAL’s biggest iTunes download ever.

    the story behind the story is the Great American Public’s inability to apply basic math to a real world situation. yes, the conditions in Chinese factories could use real, serious, and swift improvement. but this was never an “Apple” factory. Apple made up something south of 10% of Foxconn’s business. and yet, there’s a whole bunch of people who can’t tell you where their cellphone was made screaming about how evil Apple is.

    • Jeff Cozad Says:

      There is a certain amount of irony there. It would be quite a project to run down the whole supply chain.

      A bro-in-law in the EE biz says that all he does is produce a large pile of paper that get sent over the InterTubes to someplace in the “Far East”. We haven’t chatted about how much the bean counters have to say with component selection.

  6. Charley Says:

    You obviously should move to political writing, pick anyone you want. They all need help!

    • john Says:

      As far as I can tell, the only polemicist working today who might give our dear host a run for the money is Charlie Pierce, who blogs at Esquire.

  7. Libby Says:

    I was listening Friday night. The radio was 15 feet away and I was doing dishes during the last part when Glass was interviewing Daisey. I kept thinking – why aren’t I in the car so I can easily turn it off. Ten-15 seconds of disingenuous dead air he indulged in between answers, the whining and self-serving remarks that he was a performance artist speaking truths and after all, Ira knew it was performance. Portraying himself like a caged political prisoner or intellectual being tortured under a naked light bulb by Ira Glass.

  8. John O Says:

    You are much more than a rumor monger. You are a fat rumor monger.

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