Silence has an amazing capacity to create context. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick was able to make the silence of space more disturbing than the silence inside an evil spacecraft. This weekend, Ira Glass and the producers of This American Life, similarly created a style of
silence to dismantle Mike Daisey's story of evil technology. Like the silence Kubrick employed, the quiet, dramatic pauses were so unsettling that they put a liar into his proper position of austerity. As others have already encouraged, I'm adding my own endorsement for the giving this episode a listen. Reuters' Felix Salmon called it, Fabulous Journalism, in a good post that gets at similarities with Daisey's story and the Kony 2012 campaign. The TAL episode is an extraordinary effort to vet an error, and a hallmark piece of radio journalism for the aforementioned usage of silence in the medium. The New York Times' David Carr recognizes this element in his write-up from today.
During an interview punctuated by brutal, long stretches of silence, Mr. Glass asked Mr. Daisey why he had not just come clean when the fact-checking process began. “I think I was terrified,” Mr. Daisey said after a very long pause. Mr. Glass: “Of what?” Another halting pause by Mr. Daisey, followed by: “I think I was terrified that if I untied these things, that the work, that I know is really good, and tells a story, that does these really great things for making people care, that it would come apart in a way where, where it would ruin everything.”
The wild ride with this story is further accentuated in the facts that it broke on the same day Apple released it's new iPad in stores across the U.S., and watched it's stock prices rise to the cost of an iPad per share. This morning, Daisey followed up his weekend by publishing these words on his blog.