This week's episode of This American Life is both fascinating and painful to listen to, as many of the show's best episodes are. I came away from it still enraged at Mike Daisey and his lies, but also a bit sympathetic toward him. The show made it clear, without saying so, that he's dealing with some kind of mental or emotional problem. As it concluded, I still wanted him drummed out of the — “nonfiction business,” I guess I'll call it.
But I found it hard not to feel a little sympathy for a man who is obviously suffering from some kind of malady.
All that vanished, though, when I read his response to the show on his blog. There, it became clear that Mike Daisey is suffering from another affliction: He's a jerk.
For those who have somehow missed it: This American Life recently ran an excerpted version of Daisey's one-man theater presentation, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, in which he details his trip to China to investigate abuses at Foxconn, where Apple products — and many other electronic devices — are manufactured. But it turned out that many of the “facts” upon which Daisey built his show weren't facts at all. He made them up. And when confronted by TAL host Ira Glass, he lied again. And again. Many, many lies.