Mike Daisey the Storyteller


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After listening to the retraction podcast I was pretty upset to hear that the majority of the instances that Mike Daisey had talked about in the first podcast we listened to where fabricated and/or exaggerated. I just felt very deceived. At the same time I will say that I did have some doubts from the beginning to the truth of Mike Daisey’s Story. Still, this is a situation where the facts matter. I took Daisey’s word as being true. I think knowing that the first podcast was actually a fictional play gives the listener a completely different outlook on the situation compared to if it was real journalist work. While the basis of Daisey’s play is true the majority of facts are not.

My thoughts on Mike Daisey is that he is a liar, a story teller, and  not a creditable person. He knowingly put his play on the radio for people to take as a true story. When confronted with his lies he made statements like “I was terrified”, and “I felt trapped”. This is a sad attempt to make people feel sorry for him. I do not feel sorry for you Mike Daisey.  He countered his fabricated story with even more fabrication. According to his translator he went to three factories acting like a business man. In Daisey’s podcast he says that he went to ten factories. After he is confronted about this lie he changes it to being five factories, countering his lie with another lie. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. This is not the only time he continues to exaggerate his story after being confronted about his first untrue statement. I get that these lies were added to make people care more about the situation, but if you have to lie and exaggerate about something to make them care then where is the basis of the caring coming from? Mike Daisey went to China hoping to find something that he did not find so he sweetened his story to gain peoples interest.

I think Ira Glass is justified in his anger. When you are a radio talk show host responsible for presenting creditable stories to people and find out one of the stories you presented is not credible it hurts your credibility and the creditability of your radio station.  No one likes to be lied too. Ira made the statement “I vouched for you”, to Daisey. Yeah, you vouched for him, you also didn’t do enough homework on him. I don’t think all of Ira’s anger should be towards Mike Daisey. Isn’t it Ira Glass’s and his radio station team’s responsibility to make sure their sources are credible? Not all the blame goes to Mike Daisey here. If Ira Glass and his team would have done more research on Mike Daisey’s story from the beginning there wouldn’t be this problem. Also, as we heard from Rob in the second podcast, finding Daisey’s translator was as simple as searching her name in google, and once Cathy was interviewed it was clear to tell that there was a lot of fabrication done by Mike Daisey in his story.

After being confronted about his many lies Daisey finally comes out and says “it’s not journalism, its theater.” I’m not big on Art, but when I go and watch a movie and it says based on a true story I get that the basis of the story is true, but not everything will be. In journalism when someone talks about events that they witnessed I expect them to be true. Journalism is not something that you can fabricate. When you are a witness in a crime, you are depended on to tell the truth. When you’re a journalist and you witness a crime you are depended on to tell the truth.  Investigations can and will be made on such statements and the facts you state are presumed to be true. I get that it’s not the same as being under oath, but there is still a large dependency on the truth. Having someone that looks like they are 13 that works in a factory is not a crime, but actually employing a thirteen year old is.

As much as I dislike Daisey for his false statements I think he does at least make Apple look more into the factories where their products are made. From the retraction podcast we heard that Apple has set into place a code of conduct that its suppliers are required to follow. We also heard that one of the major problems that continues to happen in 50% of their audits is that there is violations in overtime, workers working more than 50 hours a week.  What is undetermined is whether these workers want this overtime or whether they are forced too. From what I have heard it seems like a combination of both. It seems that from Apple deeply analyzing the cost structure of the factories they are leaving to small of profit margins and causing these suppliers to break the rules to make ends meet. If the first pod cast was actually true I think there would definitely be a lot of people that felt guilty. After hearing more of the facts I think there are still some problems to be solved and questions to be asked. I don’t necessarily think Apple owes it to their customers to provide guilt free products, but they do at least owe them the facts on where and how their products are made.

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4 thoughts on “Mike Daisey the Storyteller

  1. I definitely agree with you about being angry with Mike Daisey after hearing both of the podcasts. As listeners, we believed what he had to say as being true, but we were fooled by him. Ira Glass definitely should have checked his facts more when it came to Daisey, but Daisey attempted to mislead him by giving him a false name, so I do not totally blame Glass. I think you make a good point though that some of the blame in this situation is on Glass.

  2. I think that one particular point you bring up, that Daisey covers his lies with more lies, is very important. At the beginning of the Retraction podcast, I felt like Daisey’s credibility was mostly shattered, but I still had some hope. Then he clearly lied again when he changed some numbers and tried to cover up some of the stories he had already fabricated. At that point, I lost all hope in Daisey. He had the ability to make a strong, powerful statement with his piece. Unfortunately, after lying again and again, it is unlikely that any of his pieces can be taken seriously moving forward.

  3. I agree with what you say about Mike’s lies on top of other lies; however, I must say that I possess a different view about his reasoning for fabricating a good amount of his story. In today’s society, consumerism has become rampant. People often consume without thinking about what went into the item they are purchasing. Many people are blind to the truth behind manufacturing, if not also purposely acting blind. The reason he is so dramatic in his monologue is because modern people are only attracted to ridiculous events. People LOVE crazy stories, not boring, 100% truthful ones. Mike feels that he can make a change in consumers’ mindsets with his fabrications and I applaud him on that. In terms of lying about his story being journalistic, I have other feelings.

  4. I agree with John’s point that people nowadays love crazy stories. What Mike had done is simply meet audience’s need, being as dramatic as possible. I also like your idea of the overtime working. This is a complicated problem as you indicated, whether the labors are forced to work overtime or they just want to. In the case of China, I would say workers there have incentive to work more than regular hours. Different from developed country like US, China’s common workers are still trying to get rid of the poor living condition and try to earn as much money as possible. People are not satisfied with their regular pay check and always would love to work more. Working overtime at factories is very understandable that they want to work overtime, which is the easiest and most straight-forward way to improve their life quality. I think this is also a cultural phenomena, and might be a special case for China, as they simply believe that the harder you work the more you make.

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