Friday, April 06, 2012

GRUBB STREET: Truth and Theatre:

In the weeks since the revelations there has been a great lamentation and rending of garments about this, a strange form of kabuki dance in which people a shocked, simply shocked, that a writer misrepresented himself. But the story feels more nuanced than at first blush and several of the actors involved are acting out of character.

Marketplace, the way the script it supposed to work, should have sprung this on TAL with an expose that shows up and challenges their facts. Instead, they offered what they learned to TAL and gave them the chance to break the story on their own. That's nice, but its not normal.

TAL, were it a traditional media company, could have stonewalled (we stand behind our sources), then, when overwhelmed, squeaked out innocuous retractions and then redesigned their site, so that the offending piece mysterious would go down the memory hole. They instead did ANOTHER show on their mistake.

And Daisey himself could have doubled-down in the best media tradition, and thrown his translator under the bus. Of COURSE she disagrees with me, she's in a country committing all these labor abuses! Reduce it to he said/she said, which makes the media believe things are balanced. Instead, he admits to some sins, stands by his badly-damaged word on others, and seemed to be honestly trying to figure out where things went wrong. In the end, he apologized on his own blog.

It seems almost precious in the modern media world. We have a media where daytime talkers and morning shows go off at length with obvious falsehoods, pounded into believable shape through continual repetition. Where political candidates will tell blatant lies, get called on them, then go off to their next speech to tell the same lies again. Where a lot of reporting is pressured by time constraints to little more than rewriting press releases and canned interviews filtered to the speaker's talking points and the audience's expectations. And here we have a passion for finding out the truth. In the wake of these revelations, there seems to be a lot of pearls being clutched by a lot of sensible souls.