exercises in compound storytelling

Monday, June 2, 2008

This American Life, episode 356

I'm a big fan of This American Life; they tell compelling stories in an engaging way, and they've offered two Alix Spiegel stories over the years. I love Alix Spiegel, not least because of her story several years ago where she visited Ted Haggard's New Life Church and nearly converted to ... something. But that's another story for another day.

This week's episode of This American Life is about Richard Convertino and his peculiar history as an investigator. I found it noteworthy because it featured an appearance by Charles Grassley, a Senator from Iowa who is currently investigating several prominent Charismatic ministries.

Grassley has a history of championing government whistleblowers, particularly inside the Executive Branch, and that's how he figures in the Convertino story. I don't know much about Grassley right now, e.g. whether he's a "good guy" or a "bad guy," and I have to admit that whenever there's a scrap between two branches of the federal government part of what's happening is just the nasty business of separation of powers. To the credit of the folks at This American Life they point out both aspects of Grassley's history.

I have to admit, too, that this story fits into a narrative at This American Life where they take the Bush Administration to task for its various flaws, and sometimes what they have to say is balanced and sometimes it isn't. See for example episodes 354 (Mistakes Were Made), 353 (The Audacity of Government), and 331 (Habeas Schmabeas 2007).

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