Sunday, March 18, 2012

This American Life Transcript: Can't Vouch for the Truth of Mike Daisey's Apple in China Monologue

This American Life and American Public Media’s Marketplace has revealed that a story first broadcast in January on This American Life contained numerous fabrications.

" the most powerful and memorable moments in the story all seem to be fabricated. "

This American Life devoted its entire program this weekend to detailing the errors in the story, which was an excerpt of Mike Daisey's critically acclaimed one-man show, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs." In it, Daisey tells how he visited a factory owned by Foxconn that manufactures iPhones and iPads in Shenzhen China.

Here is an exert:

As best as we can tell, Mike's monologue in reality is a mix of things that actually happened when he visited China and things that he just heard about or researched, which he then pretends that he witnessed first hand. He pretends that he just stumbled upon an array of workers who typify all kinds of harsh things somebody might face in a factory that makes iPhones and iPads.

And the most powerful and memorable moments in the story all seem to be fabricated. At the time that we were factchecking his story we asked Mike for the contact information for the interpreter that he used when he was visiting China, who he calls Cathy in his monologue. We wanted to talk to her to confirm that the incidents that he described all happened as he describes them.

And When we asked for her information he told us her real name wasn't Cathy, it was Anna and he had a cellphone number for her but he said when he tried it, it didn't work any more. He said he had no way to reach her. And because the other things Mike told us – about Apple and Foxconn – seemed to check out, we saw no reason to doubt him, and we dropped this. We didn’t try further to reach the translator. That was a mistake.

I can say now in retrospect that when Mike Daisey wouldn't give us contact information for his interpreter we should've killed the story rather than run it. we never should've broadcast this story without talking to that woman. Instead, we trusted his word. Although he's not a journalist, we made clear to him that anything he was going to say on our show would have to live up to journalistic standards. He had to be truthful. And he lied to us.

Here is a link to the entire transcript:



Post a Comment