Mike Daisey: “Truth Is Vitally Important” And “I Will Not Go Silent”


Mike Daisey performing his one-man show, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs"

Mike Daisey, the man behind the hugely popular show that highlights Apple’s manufacturing environment at Foxconn, has received heavy media criticism since This American Life revealed that he had lied and given inaccurate information about his trip to China. Daisey continues to perform his show at theaters in the United States, and he says he still stands by his work.

Since the Retraction episode of The American Life aired, Daisey has elaborated further on the issue surrounding Chinese manufacturing and his public scandal.

On his personal blog today, Daisey reiterated that “truth is vitally important,” and he promises his audience that he will “not go silent:”

In the last forty-eight hours I have been equated with Stephen Glass, James Frey, and Greg Mortenson. Given the tenor of the condemnation, you would think I had concocted an elaborate, fanciful universe filled with furnaces in which babies are burned to make iPhone components, or that I never went to China, never stood outside the gates of Foxconn, never pretended to be a businessman to get inside of factories, never spoke to any workers.

Especially galling is how many are gleefully eager to dance on my grave expressly so they can return to ignoring everything about the circumstances under which their devices are made. Given the tone, you would think I had fabulated an elaborate hoax, filled with astonishing horrors that no one had ever seen before.

Except that we all know that isn’t true.

Daisey continues to justify his work by saying “nothing in this controversy contests the facts in my work about the nature of Chinese manufacturing,” despite the fact that This American Life revealed multiple, glaring inaccuracies about his account of Foxconn and the workers he supposedly met there. Once such example is Daisey’s account of the armed guards at the factory’s gates. As it turns out, there are no armed guards at Foxconn. A New York Times reporter revealed to This American Life that the only people in China who are authorized to carry guns are military personnel and armored car drivers.

“If people want to use me as an excuse to return to denialism about the state of our manufacturing, about the shape of our world, they are doing that to themselves,” said Daisey on his blog. “If you think this story is bigger than that story, something is wrong with your priorities.”

Many have wondered if Daisey will change his show’s content to reflect the falsified information that was uncovered, and it turns out that he has. The AP reports that he has “cut questionable sections from the monologue and added a prologue explaining the controversy.” We have reached out to Daisey for comment.

Several high profile individuals continue to support Daisey’s show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Woz told Bloomberg:

I was moved by the performance … the acting abilities … and I agree with Mike’s portrayal of them … coming from my own understanding of the nature of this method of communication.

Mike is so great at this that I want to see it again if at all possible.

Daisey finished today’s blog post with the following:

I believe the truth is vitally important. I continue to believe that. I believe that I will answer for the things I have done. I told Ira [host of This American Life] that story should always be subordinate to the truth, and I still believe that. Sometimes I fall short of that goal, but I will never stop trying to achieve it.