Critics Say This American Life Retraction Doesn’t Clear Foxconn Of Worker Abuse

Foxconn says Daisey's report damaged its name, but it won't sue.

The China Labor Bulletin (CLB) has spoken out after an episode of This American Life, which highlights the poor working conditions at one Chinese factory, was retracted last week, making it clear that this does not clear Foxconn’s name. “The press and stock investors will continue to watch how Foxconn treats its workers,” the CLB made clear.

The episode, entitled “Mr. Daisey Goes To The Apple Factory” was debuted back in January, and became the most downloaded episode of This American Life ever. However, it was pulled last week after the show decided that parts of Mike Daisey’s report contained “numerous fabrications.”

Despite this, Foxconn is still under scrutiny from the CLB, which says the retraction isn’t enough to get Foxconn off the hook:

“The retraction has somewhat cleared Foxconn’s name, but not all the way. The press and stock investors will continue to watch how Foxconn treats its workers going forward,” said Simon Liu, fund manager and deputy investment officer at Polaris Financial Group’s fund unit in Taipei.

“Obviously, Apple is starting to take serious step asking Foxconn to properly treats its China workers,” Liu said.

Working conditions at Foxconn have been criticized for a number of years; long before Daisey’s report was broadcast. So it’s understandable that the situation won’t be forgotten now that this particular episode of This American Life is no longer available.

Geoffrey Crothall, a spokesman for the CLB, said workers are still subject to long working hours, abusive management, and unsafe work practices.

“All those things are very much in place. I don’t think there’s been any alleviation (of these problems) in the past few months. I don’t think Foxconn’s done anything, really,” Crothall said.

While Daisey’s report may have been “partially inaccurate,” according to The American Life, its publicity certainly encouraged Apple to take action against these claims and commission inspections of the Foxconn factories in China where its products are assembled.

Most of the report was true and corroborated by independent investigation, according to the show’s executive producer. But unfortunately, it seems parts of it were not.

Despite this, Foxconn has no plans to take legal action, but it acknowledges that the show has “totally ruined” its corporate

“Our corporate image has been totally ruined. The point is whatever media that cited the programme should not have reported it without confirming (with us),” said Simon Hsing, Foxconn’s spokesman.

“We have no plans to take legal action… We hope nothing similar will happen again.”

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  • STRIPBLUNTS

    This is just an example of people trying to cover their a%*#!! Anyone involved in redistributing this FALSE story is as guilty as Mr. Daisey! There’s NO proof that Foxconn has any serious problems that are worse the American labour, FACT!! Continuing to stick to the “Apple’s guilty” line is just sad! Journalism in modern society is just about over! News media in modern times has NO stones!

  • bonro001

    It’s interesting that they don’t site anything they are watching.  It seems that just because they are watching there is something wrong.  

  • Len Williams

    Actually huge and significant parts of Mike Daisey’s story were false and manufactured by Daisey for dramatic effect. I highly recommend that anyone interested in this issue to go to the This American Life site and actually listen to the Retraction episode. It is amazingly revelatory of Daisey’s inability to present factual evidence–or his hidden agenda to make a name for himself by “uncovering” a conspiracy that doesn’t actually exist. Daisey is exposed as lying many times in his show and to TAL staff, and he admits it. 

    For example, one of the most damning allegations he says about Foxconn concerns the “armed guards” stationed at the Foxconn gates, painting a picture of nearly concentration camp conditions. The truth is that firearms are COMPLETELY ILLEGAL in China except for the police, military and special government units. This is one of Daisey’s “theatrical” inventions that he stands by, when in fact it’s a complete fabrication designed to create a HORRIBLE image of Foxconn and Apple. The real Chinese interpreter is interviewed, and many of Daisey’s most damning statements about Foxconn/Apple NEVER HAPPENED AT ALL. Daisey tries to cover his butt by saying his show is not journalism and uses “theatrical license”–but this “license” has caused hundreds or thousands of people to go on a crusade against Apple, all based on lies.

    From the Oxford American Dictionary:

    libel |?l?b?l|
    noun
    1 Law: a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation.

    slander |?sland?r|
    noun Law
    the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.

  • Moog

    Title should read “Critics”[sic].

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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