Dear Ira and producers of TAL,
Over the years, I've come to really love This American Life, and you Ira, in particular. I feel like I know you like a friend. A friend who is always telling me good stories and listening to others with compassion, and beginning sentences with "I feel..." and being open about how others see things and willing to really try to understand why they think the way they think. I feel that approaching others in this fashion builds bridges between people, which leads to peace. Inner peace, peace between people, world peace. Some kind of small piece of peace. This approach matters to me because this is a way of moving in the world I constantly strive for. And this is what makes me feel like you are my friend.
I just listened to the Retraction podcast (#460) and it has moved me to want to be there for you the way I am there for a friend going through a tough time. This has been the most moving episode of TAL that I've heard. Really.
When I was 16 or 17, I found out that ####### had been sexually molesting a number of my friends. When I confronted him about it, he twisted the story. He justified. He lied to me. The silences between your words and between Mike Daisey's words sounded to me like that day in that conversation, when ####### whom I loved and trusted, turned my world on it's head. I wanted to believe him. He also wanted to believe himself. He needed his version of the story to be true. And that made things even worse.
In your voice, I could hear you wanting to believe Mike Daisey. Wanting him to just explain why he lied. I mean, you even said that. You went so far as to point out to him why it would be okay to admit it, giving him a very human reason why he may have chosen to lie. And he wouldn't do it. He needed his version of the story to be true. And that made it even worse. I am so sorry, Ira. I recognize that finding out someone lied to you in a journalistic sense and finding out ####### is a child molester are different in many ways. But I imagine you are sick over the possibility of your loss of credibility, an intangible thing it takes years to develop and can be broken in an instant. This is not so different from breaking someone's trust.
####### later admitted to me that it was true. This may be the main reason I've been able to reach the level of forgiveness I have. But today, a decade and a half later, I still don't completely believe anything he says. I hope so much that this doesn't make you less trusting of people on your show, less compassionate or willing to hear their stories. I hope you are still able to build bridges of sound and understanding between people.
Maybe there are listeners out there who will be angry with you, who will trust you less. Who will like TAL less. I'm writing to let you know I'm not one of those. I am impressed at how you and the producers of TAL are handling this. I empathize with your fear, embarrassment, anger, broken trust and feelings of betrayal. I stand behind you. I still love and trust your show and the part of you that I know through the radio. I think even more now than before.
P.S. I donated $10 tonight, just to prove that I mean it. I know it's a small drop in your bucket, but it's enough to make me feel better about all the times I haven't donated to your pledge drives.
P.P.S. If this email goes anywhere public, please just replace the parts that say "#######" or "#######" with "#######" or whatever. I will speak out against him in an instant (and have in the past) if I think he is still molesting kids. I honestly don't think he is right now though, so I don't want to mess up his life unnecessarily by going public with it again. Thanks.