Daisey: Falsehoods don't undermine larger truth about Apple manufacturing

Mike Daisey | Gawker

Mike Daisey added a prologue and cut some portions from his monologue after "This American Life" retracted its story based on his critique of Apple's manufacturing, but he is doubling down on his justification for merging fact and fiction:

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. ...

There is nothing in this controversy that contests the facts in my work about the nature of Chinese manufacturing. Nothing.

If ever a sentence needed an asterisk, it would be the second one.

Daisey did visit Foxconn, but according to his translator, he talked to fewer workers than he reported, they didn't tell him what he claimed, and they weren't as young as he said they were. Same for the factories: He exaggerated how many he visited and claimed he saw things he didn't.

Daisey promises in his blog post that he will make "a full accounting of this work, shining a light through this monologue and telling the story of its origins, construction, and details."

He also works in a dig at Ira Glass, saying the dead air in his interview was "a nice touch ... That’s Ira’s choice, and it’s his show. He’s a storyteller within the context of radio journalism, and I am a storyteller in the theater."

Meanwhile, Gawker's Adrien Chen reveals that he raised questions about Daisey's monologue before "This American Life" adapted it. He describes a conversation with Daisey in which "he gave such a convincing performance that I stupidly dropped the issue."

In that conversation, Daisey even admitted that one part of his monologue, in which he describes a man playing with his iPad with a hand mangled making Apple products, seemed too good to be true. In the end, Chen writes, Daisey got to him by criticizing the technology press for failing to cover the story:

And now I wondered why I was wasting my time trying to poke holes in his facts when I should be writing about the awful things he saw. We talked for a bit more and he invited me to his show. I went, and dropped the story.

Ironically, Daisey is now pointing to reporting by mainstream news outlets as proof of the larger truth of his monologue.

In another post, Chen notes that one of Daisey's former coworkers at Amazon said he stretched the truth for his monologue about working there. Chen has asked people to send other examples. Related: 4 important truths about Mike Daisey’s lies & the way ‘This American Life’ told them || Earlier: Presented with contradictions, Mike Daisey won’t admit lying about facts of Apple story | This American Life retracts Mike Daisey story about Apple factory in China

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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