Last January, NPR’s weekly program ‘This American Life’ devoted an episode to working conditions at Foxconn’s factories in China – drawing heavily from Actor/Provocateur Mike Daisey’s theater monologue entitled ‘The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs’.
In his monologue, often cited as the factual basis to expose working conditions at Apple’s suppliers, Daisey relates vignettes from his visit to China where he met with Foxconn workers.
Well, after much fact-checking – many Daisey claims appear to be patently false or fabricated.
In a remarkable breath of fresh air, This American Life announced that it has retracted its January broadcast of Daisey’s account of conditions at Foxconn:
The China correspondent for the public radio show Marketplace tracked down the interpreter that Daisey hired when he visited Shenzhen China. The interpreter disputed much of what Daisey has been saying on stage and on our show…
Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast. That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.
Daisey reportedly lied to This American Life‘s staff when asked for contact information for the interpreter he used during his travels, but once the interpreter was found through other means his story began to come apart.
In his defense, Daisey now disavows his need for ‘journalistic standards’, since his production is theatrical:
What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed THIS AMERICAN LIFE to air an excerpt from my monologue. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is essentially a journalistic - not a theatrical - enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations.
This American Life will explain their retraction on this week’s program, which airs locally on KUT-FM, Sunday mornings at 10:00 am.