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Welcome to the This American Life archives, with hundreds of episodes dating back to our first year on the air, 1995. If you're new to the show, you might want to start with our page of favorite programs. You can browse by year, or search the entire archive for a specific topic or name. Find that one show you heard a long time ago, discover new stories by a favorite contributor, download or stream individual episodes, or just poke around by clicking on each title for a detailed show description.
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260: The Facts Don't Matter

There's what happened, and there's the story that gets told about what happened. Sometimes the two things don't match up very well. This week, two case examples — ripped, as they say, from today's headlines — of the story that's told becoming the truth, even though the facts don't back it up.


Host Ira Glass discusses Howard Stern, who claims that current action by the FCC will take him off the air. We hear from Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan who heads the House committee passing new FCC fines, and from Brent Bozell who heads the Parents' Television Council. (6 minutes)

Act One. Straight Eyes on the Quirin Guys.

Chris Neary tells the story of how a bungled Nazi sabotage operation from the early days of World War II has become the legal foundation for the Bush administration's current push to try U.S. citizens in military tribunals. But when you return to the original facts of the case, it's not only unclear if they support current Administration policy, it's unclear if they support the Supreme Court's decision in the original case. The attempted sabotage operation was chronicled in Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs's excellent book, Saboteurs: The Nazi Raid on America. (36 minutes)

Act Two. Mush Polling.

This American Life producer Sarah Koenig visits the John Zogby polling operation to get answers to her own questions about the mushiness of poll numbers. (15 minutes)

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