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'This American Life' Retraction: Other Journalism Fabrication Scandals

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 03/16/2012 2:59 pm Updated: 03/16/2012 2:59 pm

Apple This American Life

The journalism world was rocked Friday when public radio program "This American Life" announced that it was retracting a story it had run about the conditions in Apple's Chinese factories, saying the piece was "partially fabricated."

Host Ira Glass said that actor Mike Daisey, whose monologue formed the basis of the story, had lied to the program during the fact-checking process, and that he and his colleagues had been too trusting of him.

For his part, Daisey said his mistake had been to present his show as a piece of journalism.

The incident is a black eye for "TAL," which has gained a reputation for journalistic excellence over the years. But the show is hardly the first to suddenly have a fabrication scandal on its hands.

Below, see examples of some of the great journalism stories that turned out to be too good to be true

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  • Rathergate at CBS

    In 2004, a 60 Minutes II report alleged that George W. Bush failed to fulfill his service to the National Guard, relying on documents that were <a href="" target="_hplink">revealed to be forged</a>. CBS News producer Mary Mapes got the infamous documents from a former U.S. Army National Guard officer who later admitted to lying about their source. The scandal resulted in Mapes's termination, the resignation of other news execs and, some speculate, anchor Dan Rather's retirement a year earlier than planned.

  • WaPo Journalist Fabricated Child Heroin Addict Story

    In 1980, Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke penned <a href="" target="_hplink">"Jimmy's World,"</a> about an 8-year old heroin addict, sparking an all-out police search for the boy that turned up nothing. Days after her article won the Pulitzer Prize, her editors confronted her about inconsistencies in her resume and she confessed that Jimmy didn't exist.

  • Jayson Blair at the New York Times

    27-year-old Jayson Blair was an emerging force at the New York Times in 2003 when it was discovered that he had plagiarized and fabricated facts in at least 36 articles for the paper. An ensuing investigation revealed that Blair made up names, quotes and scenes for high-profile stories on Jessica Lynch, the families of other soldiers in Iraq and the 2002 sniper attacks. Then-executive editor Howell Raines and managing editor Gerald Boyd resigned in the fallout of the scandal, which the Times called "<a href="" target="_hplink">a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper</a>."

  • Stephen Glass And The New Republic

    A rising star at the political magazine, Glass plunged the New Republic into scandal in 1998, when it was discovered that he'd made up entire stories, as well as quotes and sources, over a three year period.

  • USA Today Scandal

    Jack Kelley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the paper, was found to have <a href="" target="_hplink">plagiarized and fabricated</a> "substantial portions" of at least eight stories.

  • Boston Globe Published Fake Porn Pics

    In 2004, the <a href="" target="_hplink">Boston Globe printed pictures</a> from a porn website called "Sex in War" that it claimed depicted U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi women. Other news sources <a href="" target="_hplink">exposed the photos as fakes</a> a week before the Boston Globe published them, and critics alleged that a simple Google search would've shown as much.

  • Fox News Faked Kerry Manicure Report

    Weeks before the 2004 presidential election, Fox News political reporter Carl Cameron claimed in an <a href="" target="_hplink">article</a> that candidate John Kerry received a pre-debate manicure and gloated about it. Cameron attributed fabricated quotes to Kerry, including "Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" and "Women should like me! I do manicures." Fox retracted the piece and apologized, blaming its publication on "bad judgment and fatigue."

  • The Hitler Diaries

    It seemed too good to be true -- secret diaries of Hitler's spanning 13 years? -- <a href="" target="_hplink">and it was</a>. Multiple organizations, including Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times, Newsweek, and German magazine Stern, wound up with egg on their face when the diaries proved to be fake.

  • Daily Mirror Soldier Hoax

    Piers Morgan was editing the British tabloid when it ran pictures purportedly showing soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. It turned out that the pictures were fake. Morgan was fired.

  • Judy Miller Scandal

    New York Times reporter Miller got scoop after scoop about the alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Unfortunately, there weren't any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and Miller ultimately left the paper under a cloud. The Times took a serious hit to its reputation for publishing the stories.

  • Phone Hacking Scandal

    Rupert Murdoch's papers got into a little bit of trouble for hacking into dead peoples' phones and spying on princes and things.

  • Fareed Zakaria

    Zakaria apologized for plagiarizing from the New Yorker.

  • Jonah Lehrer

    Lehrer admitted to lifting quotes, fabricating material and lying about it.

  • New York Post's Subway Photo

    The tabloid got into trouble for running a picture of a man about to be killed by an oncoming train.

  • NBC's George Zimmerman Edit

    The network fired reporters and producers for a botched edit which distorted a tape of the Trayvon Martin shooter.

  • Mike Daisey

    In this undated image released by The Public Theater, Mike Daisey is shown in a scene from "The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," in New York. Daisey, whose latest show has been being credited with sparking probes into how Apple's high-tech devices are made, is finding himself under fire for distorting the truth. The public radio show “This American Life” retracted a story Friday, March 16, 2012, that it broadcast in January about what Daisey said he saw while visiting a factory in China where iPads and iPhones are made. (AP Photo/The Public Theater, Stan Barouh)

  • Bush Administration Paid Journalists

    A 2005 USA Today investigative report revealed that the <a href="" target="_hplink">Bush administration paid columnists</a> hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds to promote the administration's policies. Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus were among those who received money to support No Child Left Behind and Bush's marriage initiative in their pieces.

  • CNN Knew About Human Rights Abuses in Iraq

    In 2003, CNN news chief Eason Jordan revealed that <a href="" target="_hplink">the network had known about Saddam Hussein's human rights abuses</a> since 1990, but didn't report them to keep the Baghdad bureau open and protect the safety of its employees and sources.

  • Packwood Scandal at the Oregonian

    The Oregonian failed to investigate evidence that <a href="" target="_hplink">Sen. Robert Packwood had sexually harassed several women</a>, even though he had kissed one of the paper's own reporters after an interview. The Washington Post broke the story in 1992, creating a serious lack of trust that the Oregonian would take on the state's power brokers, which was only compounded in 2004 when the paper <a href=" " target="_hplink">underreported former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's statuatory rape</a> of a 14-year old girl as an "affair."

  • NBC Staged Explosion On-Air

    A 1992 Dateline NBC segment showed a General Motors truck exploding after a low-speed crash with another car. GM later sued the network when the explosion was <a href=",,305709,00.html" target="_hplink">revealed to have been staged</a> with remote-controlled devices, and NBC News President Michael Gartner was forced to resign.

  • Tribune CEO Accused of Pervasive Sex Talk

    Randy Michaels resigned as the Tribune Company's CEO in 2010 after allegations that his leadership transformed the company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, into "<a href="" target="_hplink">a frat house, complete with poker parties, juke boxes and pervasive sex talk</a>." Michaels allegedly discussed the sexual suitability of co-workers, and told a waitress he would give her $100 to show him her breasts in front of his co-workers.

  • Hearst Executive's Sexting Scandal

    Top Hearst executive Scott Sassa <a href="" target="_blank">resigned</a> after a stripper released their sexting exchanges.