David Sedaris is a humor writer who has a standing gig at National Public Radio news shows. His schtick is based on his array of personal experiences, such as the time he once worked in a department store as Santa’s elf. But NPR got burned when it turned out that Mike Daisey’s expose of conditions at an Apple Computer factory in China was largely made up. And now it has come out that some of Sedaris’s anecdotes–including his time as an elf–did not, strictly speaking, actually happen. Sedaris says his material is “real-ish.” So now NPR is undergoing a crisis of conscience about the extent to which they should fact-check Sedaris’s funny stories.
Fiction, of course, by definition is made up. Sedaris presents his stories as experiences, though the nature of humor is going to require exaggerations, caricatures, and embellishments.
Do you think NPR is being responsible or over-scrupulous? What is the difference between what Sedaris does and what Daisey did? Could you propose some guidelines for NPR?