On 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.
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 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?