The phrase “the fiction we have on the show functions like journalism” seems like a perfect description of what Mike Dasiey did. His crime was in lying to the producers of the show when asked direct questions about the veracity of his story. He did not betray his theater audiences and he didn’t impugn the journalistic integrity of ‘This American Life’ because these are both contexts that accept and allow for “the tools of theater” in the service of telling compelling stories.
I get the impression that ‘This American Life’ will now rebrand itself as a fact-based journalism program, because isn’t that what’s missing on public radio, and as a former obnoxious acolyte of the program that’s disappointing. But I hope people will remember that when they originally ran Mike Daisey’s story they were happy to use fiction throughout their program and they didn’t spend a lot of time pointing out when that was or wasn’t happening.