Mike Daisey caught lying about Foxconn; incinerates credibility

Mike Daisey caught lying about Foxconn; incinerates credibility

Summary: Even after the retraction, how many people will remember the lies that Daisey told? Did Daisey put a proverbial dent in Apple's global brand? What are the costs of his fabrications?

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TOPICS: China, Apple, iPad
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Mike Daisey gets caught lying about Foxconn, incinerates career - Jason O'GradyOn Friday, popular public radio program (and podcast) This American Life was forced to retract an episode that it broadcast in January about Foxconn's factories in China.

The episode was excerpt of Mike Daisey's (pictured) acclaimed one-man show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," about visiting a Foxconn factory in China that makes iPhones and iPads for Apple (in addition to products for many tops electronics companies). It was the show's most popular episode.

Daisey made several claims about Foxconn and its labor practices that, upon further inspection, appear to be completely fabricated.

According to the New York Times:

After broadcasting the segment, the producers of This American Life had been alerted by Rob Schmitz, a reporter for another public-radio program, Marketplace, that some of the first-person testimony presented by Mr. Daisey in the radio version of the show was dubious.

The TAL blog explains the ruse:

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.

You can listen to the retraction episode as a podcast and it's a complete a train wreck. There's also a transcript (PDF), but I recommend the podcast so that you can hear Daisey's long, awkward pauses when asked the tough questions.

Even after the retraction, how many people will remember the lies that Daisey told? (How many birthers still believe that Obama's a Muslim?) And it's not just the damage caused by the TAL episode, Daisey was a popular guest on many of the major cable news shows after his episode of TAL aired and after the publication of the New York Times' controversial iECONOMY series on the treatment of workers at the Foxconn factories.

Did Daisey have an impact on Apple's global brand? Does Apple have a case for a slander suit?

Photo: Show Business Weekly

Topics: China, Apple, iPad

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58 comments
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  • Read the PDF

    Sure Daisey doesn't come away with any credibility, but let's not confuse this with what's actually happening in the factories making Apple's toys.

    "We did factcheck the story before we put it on the radio. But in factchecking, our main
    concern was whether the things Mike says about Apple and about its supplier Foxconn.
    which makes this stuff, were true. That stuff is true. It???s been corroborated by
    independent investigations by other journalists, studies by advocacy groups, and much of it has been corroborated by Apple itself in its own audit reports."

    So Apple might like ti sue Daisey for implying armed guards or underaged workers, but the appalling low-paid and crampled living conditions still exist so that Apple can make a profit.
    tonymcs@...
    • Misnomer of course

      Since Foxconn also builds Dell, HP, Acer, etc... on those same assembly lines as Apple.

      That doesn't excuse Apple or Daisey but let's keep things in perspective, shall we...
      ScorpioBlack
  • Article missing information?

    I read the article, but I did not see anything in this article about what specifically he made up or lied about. I know the topic from the article but none of the actual details of what happened and what we are really talking about here in this article.

    I don't stalk Apple stuff so I don't know whats going on with this guy, or if he said good things that will help Apple or bad things that were against Apple (the end does suggest bad things were said, but I don't really know.)

    Please add a little bit more context to this article please.
    x21x
    • Try following the links provided...

      it's all there.
      msalzberg
      • ummm ... the point of reporting ...

        ... is to inform people (us) of what's going on -- to tell us the facts in a fair and impartial manner so that readers (us) could draw reasonable conclusions and take appropriate action, if necessary. At least that's what they taught me in journalism school.

        I normally like Jason O'Grady's stories, however, I have to agree with x21x: this story is missing ... well ... everything. There's no context. I do follow Apple, and I know about the Foxconn issues, but I'm not familiar with this podcaster and I have no idea what he said that Apple might have liked or not. All I know from this story is that someone said something about Foxconn and apparently he trashed his reputation doing it. I can't tell if he was painting things at Foxconn in a rosy light, or whether he exaggerated how bad things are.

        I shouldn't have to click all over the place to read 14 different other blogs and stories and web sites just to figure this out.

        Jason: would you please provide a teensy bit of context for us in the story -- summarize what was said and why Apple might be unhappy or not? A sentence or two would be GREAT.

        Thanks. :-)
        jscott69
      • You are so lazy

        "I shouldn't have to click all over the place to read 14 different other blogs and stories and web sites just to figure this out."

        Well, fortunately, you don't have to do any of those things. You have to click once to go to listen to the podcast (or read the transcript). Why should anyone have to provide you with Cliffs Notes of everything on the Internet so you don't have to read or listen for yourself?

        In the time it took you to type out your insipid and condescending reply wherein you whine about not being spoon-fed information you could have clicked the link and done the reading yourself.
        RationalGuy
      • @jscott69 and x21x

        For what Jason left out follow the link to read the PDF or to listen to the podcast... and then you get to make your own interpretation of what Daisey said. Are you guys seriously that fraking lazy you can't be bothered to click on a link?
        athynz
      • @Anthez

        Then why bother writing anything at all. Just have a series of hyperlink lines with a "here look" down at the bottom.

        Talk about seriously lazy writing...
        ScorpioBlack
  • He was only imitating politicians

    Something will stick, even if it's a complete fabrication. If it's working for a crowd of wannabee presidential candidates, why shouldn't a humble radio reporter try it? To quote Daniel Moynihan: "You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts" is no longer valid. You can have your opinions and invent ALL the facts, all the time. The point is to repeat your fabrications louder and louder.
    mainvision
  • It's no secret that we have off-shored slavery

    It's been happening for quite some time.
    happyharry_z
    • Why bother?

      The advantage you have is that no cares enough about what you said to bother to issue a retraction.
      Robert Hahn
  • making things up is fashionable

    Everybody who has some knowledge about China and Foxconn knows that the stories must have been partially fabricated. Everybody seem to have a score to settle with the Chinese, this while the minimum wage in China is up to 250% higher than in countries like Thailand were Western Digital, Hitachi and Seagate manufacture their hard drives using 5 dollar a day labour. Worst of all the mentioned companies oppose a minimum wage hike to 10 dollar a day.
    rhon@...
  • Just because...

    Just because this guy made up some stuff does not mean that Apple are innocent.

    We KNOW that people who work there are still killing themselves, and that the only reason the numbers have gone down recently is because nets have been put up to stop suicidal workers taking their own lives via a rooftop jump, and *I* know from living here that it happens a lot more regularly than the western media acknowledges it.

    I wonder why...
    Naryan
    • People do this

      Oh, stop it with the suicides. The suicide rate in the Foxconn factories is lower than for China as a whole. In fact it is lower than the suicide rate in the United States.
      Robert Hahn
  • I'm actually apt to believe his fiction is closer to reality...

    Than the reality presented.

    We all know that traveling to foxconn to get a first-hand impression will find you greeted with the same sort of carefully controlled facade the average visitor to pyonyang would receive.

    Not that I care, the guy is a journalist, and they're all yellow.
    Tea.Rollins
    • Reality can be bought

      when you have 98 Billion sitting in the bank, and a supplier that relies on you for close to a third of their business.
      William Farrel
      • Are you willing to tell HP and Dell that?

        Since they use the same assembly lines?

        Don't tell me there's a double standard here, Wilie.
        ScorpioBlack
      • Sure can!

        HP, Sony, Toshiba, Nintendo, Dell, and others have been doing it for YEARS! But that's okay because none of them are Apple! Cue the Double Standards!
        athynz
      • Not at all

        ScorpioWho

        HP, Dell, individually don't come close as Apple does in terms of money spent at Foxconn.

        That would make Apple a "valued partner" above the others, and someone Foxcomm would bend over much farther for.
        William Farrel
      • Sure ya can

        [i]HP, Sony, Toshiba, Nintendo, Dell, and others have been doing it for YEARS! But that's okay because none of them are Apple! Cue the Double Standards![/i]

        What double standards. Nobody's letting Apple off the hook here. The problem is you're lying by omission about the others. Glad to see your starting to change a little bit.

        [i]HP, Dell, individually don't come close as Apple does in terms of money spent at Foxconn.[/i]

        Uh, last time I heard, HP, Dell etc...made 10 times more machines on those assembly lines than Apple did. What was that about money?

        [i]That would make Apple a "valued partner" above the others, and someone Foxcomm would bend over much farther for.[/i]

        Uh no, that sounds more like one of those fantasies you collected from your local p0rn site.

        Say it ain't so, Wilie!

        lol...
        ScorpioBlack