Published March 19, 2012
Performer Mike Daisey fought back against critics who he said were unfairly tarring him and his reputation on Monday -- after “This American Life” retracted a January broadcast featuring his monologue on working conditions in Apple factories in China, citing numerous factual errors.
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 ... 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,” Daisey wrote in a blog post Monday morning.
“Given the tone, you would think I had fabulated an elaborate hoax, filled with astonishing horrors that no one had ever seen before.”
Ira Glass, host and executive producer of “This American Life,” made public the news on Friday that it was retracting the January broadcast featuring Daisey’s show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” after uncovering numerous errors both great and small in the show.
“We've learned that Mike Daisey's story about Apple in China -- which we broadcast in January -- contained significant fabrications,” explained Ira Glass, host and executive producer of the show, in a statement online. “We're retracting the story because we can’t vouch for its truth.”
Daisey defended his work, which takes contract manufacturer Foxconn to task for dangerous working conditions, stating that the performance was intended not as news or journalism but as entertainment.
He explained to Glass this his mistake was in allowing "This American Life" to broadcast the show.
Daisey nevertheless altered the final NYC performance of his show on Sunday to reflect the flaws Glass had uncovered and to hew more closely to the facts.
“I stand behind this work. And the work you’re going to see today has had changes made to it, so that I can stand behind it completely,” Daisey told audiences at The Public Theater Sunday, Mar. 18.
“There is nothing in this controversy that contests the facts in my work about the nature of Chinese manufacturing. Nothing. I think we all know if there was, Ira would have brought it up,” Daisey wrote in a blog post Monday morning.
Foxconn said Sunday that it had no plans to press charges against Daisey, despite damage to its reputation caused by Daisey and his show.
"Our client is Apple Inc ... Our corporate image has been totally ruined. The point is whatever media that cited the program should not have reported it without confirming (with us)," said Simon Hsing, Foxconn's spokesman, according to a Reuters reports.
"We have no plans to take legal action... We hope nothing similar will happen again."
Despite his strong words Monday, Daisey was also contrite, expressing regret and apologizing “to anyone who felt betrayed.”
“I believe the truth is vitally important. I continue to believe that. I believe that I will answer for the things I have done,” he wrote.
He plans to continue the show, with the next stop set for Washington, D.C.
“I told Ira 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,” Daisey said.