NPR Frets Over David Sedaris' 'Realish' Stories

Mike Daisey episode prompts more exacting standards
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2012 2:12 PM CDT
NPR Frets Over David Sedaris' 'Realish' Stories
David Sedaris is wrapped up in a fact-checking controversy at NPR.   (Getty Images)

The furor over Mike Daisey's semi-fabricated Foxconn story has NPR rethinking its content—even when it comes to comedy. Humorist David Sedaris' hugely popular stories are now in the spotlight for autobiographical material that he has described as "realish." Before the Daisey brouhaha, This American Life "just assumed the audience was sophisticated enough to tell that this guy is making jokes and that there was a different level of journalistic scrutiny that we and they should apply," says host Ira Glass.

Now, however, the show's producers are considering fact-checking Sedaris' stories—as the New Yorker does—or adding a disclaimer before his monologues noting that they're not entirely rooted in fact; for instance, Sedaris told a journalist in 2007 that a character in one of his stories was fictional. NPR's ombudsman votes for the disclaimer. But, "it’s a hard thing to figure out how to do it in way that is respectful of the audience and is respectful of Sedaris," Glass notes. (More David Sedaris stories.)

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