Performer and monologist Mike Daisey has been all over the news since the This American Life radio show retracted its most downloaded episode ever in which Daisey talked about visiting Foxconn, the Chinese factory that Apple products are made in. This American Life said that Daisey’s story contained “significant fabrications.” The New York Times also edited an article it ran by Daisey to reflect the inaccurate re-telling of his experience at Foxconn in China.
To put it plainly, Daisey said he saw things he never saw and met people he never met. He’s been feeding his audiences false information for many months. For the first time in the show’s history, This American Life has run a special retraction episode to clear up the mess. If you’ve been following the Apple/Foxconn issue, you should really give it a listen.
A full transcript of the 58-minute radio show is available, but we strongly suggest listening to the episode in its entirety. This American Life host Ira Glass and Marketplace reporter Rob Schmitz explain the dirty details of how Daisey’s lies were uncovered, including an interview with the Chinese interpreter Daisey used during his visit at Foxconn. Daisey himself is then interviewed and asked to explain himself (that part is particularly painful to listen to). The episode is finished with an accurate look at what Foxconn is really like by New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg (a reporter involved in the ’iEconomy’ series). A longer interview between Ira Glass and Duhigg is also available with more information about Apple and manufacturing in China.
Daisey continues to stand by his work under the umbrella of dramatic license, but the real problem here is that he lied to turn his work of art into a work of journalism. Despite the scandal, theaters continue to support Daisey, and his show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, is scheduled to be performed through the summer.