This American Life has publicly admitted that their Foxconn exposé episode, Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory, was “partially fabricated,” and has fully retracted the episode as a result. The work was based on informationfrom monologue artist Mike Daisey, who apparently lied about its accuracy.
The Verge reports
This American Life has retracted an episode that focused on working conditions inside a Foxconn iPad factory, calling the source material “partially fabricated.” The episode — the most popular in TAL history with nearly a million streams — was partially based on the work of artist Mike Daisey, who apparently lied to fact-checkers about his experiences visiting Foxconn’s facility. Some of the lies were discovered during an interview with Daisey’s Chinese translator, who disputed the facts presented in his show and on the air.
A new episode of the show is expected to air later today in order to explain the problems surrounding the episode and why it was retracted. This American Life host Ira Glass has also stepped forward to take full responsibility for the error, stating that Daisy lied to him, and that he is ”horrified to have let something like this onto public radio.”
While Glass has taken the honorable route, however, that’s more than can be said for Daisey, who doesn’t express a shred of regret, and in fact even goes so far as to defend his actions on his blog, stating that the “rules” of journalism should not apply to his work.
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.
Of course, the problem isn’t that he told a dramatic tale about his visit to China. The problem isn’t even that his account wasn’t completely true. The problem is that he presented his story as absolute fact, and then lied to the producers of This American Life so they’d put it on the air.
As it turns out, all of Daisey’s claims about workers being poisoned, and about a man’s hand being severely injured while working on the iPad assembly line, were completely false, and that the “factory workers” that he “interviewed” were fabricated characters.
Shame on you, Mike Daisey. The “rules of journalism” may not apply to you, but the rules of common decency should.