I found the “Retraction” podcast very interesting for a few reasons. First, I found it strange that This American Life would spend an entire hour framing Mike Daisey as a liar. To me, it was somewhat unprofessional to use him as a scapegoat in this way, rather than to use the work they had paid for and broadcasted in a positive way. By this I mean that instead of bashing his claims, simply clarify that what was said was an act of fiction BASED on true events than an act of journalism. While in some parts they did just that, I think the overall tone of their podcast was meant to shame Mike Daisey, rather than clarify a confusing situation.
That said, I feel that there was absolutely fault on both sides. On one hand, Mike Daisey should never have positioned his story as journalism due to his lack of proof and frequent use of exaggeration. He should have more fully considered his audience, the nature of his work, and the potential impacts of its release. If he had understood the context in which his story was being told, as a professional entertainer certainly should, I think his work would have more successfully accomplished its goal of “spreading awareness.” On the other hand, TAL should NEVER have aired the story without checking and approving it first. In much the same way that Daisey should not have lied about his experiences, TAL should not have assumed the work was accurate if they expect audiences to trust the stories told on their program. By ignoring their own standards of quality, they tarnished their reputation as a journalistic radio show.
To me, the reason they spent an hour absolutely grilling Mike Daisey is to regain this sacred trust with their listeners. By blaming him, however, I think they made themselves ultimately look worse. Had I been a TAL executive, I think I would have gone with a more professional and respectful apology that explicitly classifies his work as something that did not belong on the show in the first place, while also highlighting its positive qualities as a work of art.