Truth, or a quest for a mythical creature.

Truth. Such a widely used term, yet no one really knows what it actually is. Is it a long lost out in planes of Eden? Could it be a wild, ruthless engine running the world? Perhaps, it is just a simple entity embedded in the very threads of our soul. Or is there truth? And if there is truth, is it absolute or conditional? So many questions, so few answers. Yet, people keep asking same questions over and over – exactly what Ira Glass did in his studio on the 16th day of March in 2012. Continue reading


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.

People Believe What They Want

Not as surprised as most of the This American Life’s audience, I am quite calm after knowing the fact that Mike Daisey fabricated numerous details in his story about visiting Foxconn. The gun, the 13 years old under-aged girl worker, the abruptly dead end highway and the secret worker union, all the details of Mr. Daisey’s China experience that once shocked me and questioned by me are demonstrated as fake. As the host of the TAL show said, Mr. Daisey’s untruthful talk got a lot of attention and more people downloaded it than any episode the show has ever done. Those two episodes of radio shows also explained a question bothered me many years: where all the various biases towards China come from? Continue reading

Daisey’s Wrongful Writing

There is a difference between a journalist and a playwright. They have different educational backgrounds. They have different goals. They have different responsibilities. Most importantly, they produce different expectations from their audience. When Daisey traveled to China, he interviewed people, observed their working conditions, and made an effort to learn about their culture. This type of experiential research is acceptable by both journalists and playwrights. However, his actions that followed were not acceptable for anyone. Continue reading

To Perform Or Not To Perform…That Is The Question

Many people were stunned and infuriated to hear that Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” was a partially fabricated story performed many times by Mike Daisey. This story was the pinnacle work of his career, and in believing he should expose it to as many listeners as possible, Mike asked This American Life to broadcast the performance. Ira Glass, and those working at This American Life, agreed to the performance and received Mike’s authentication that his story was in fact journalistic (meaning it was all truth). The original broadcast aired on January 6, 2012 and was retracted on March 16, 2012 after Marketplace reporter, Rob Schmitz, uncovered the truth behind Mike’s journey to Shenzhen. Continue reading

The Shocking Truth About Mike Daisey

I am shocked after listening to the second This American Life show, but for much different reasons than I was after the first.  I generally consider the radio to be pretty reliable and informative, which is what I expected when listening to the “Mr. Daisey and Apple” podcast.  I am surprised that Daisey put out a story that he knew was not entirely true to be heard over the podcast.  He said in the second show that he regretted doing it, but that does not make what he did right.  He fooled so many people, including myself, into thinking that his monologue was factual.  I mean, why wouldn’t we have believed him?  He gave no clues that what he was saying was not true, so we had every reason to believe him.  I definitely think that Ira Glass is justified in his anger about the story.  Daisey not only made a fool out of himself, but he also made Glass feel like an idiot for airing this untrue show.  Glass in no way intended to mislead his listeners, but Daisey ended up doing this for him.

What bothered me the most about Daisey’s lies were the lies about the people that he met.  I assumed that he was trying to do justice to these workers that he met while in Shenzhen, but it turns out that he did actually not meet many of them.  He was obviously trying to pull on the heartstrings of his listeners and viewers, but it seems as though he made a lot of it up.  Yes, he admitted to doing this and justified it by trying to tell these people’s stories, even if he did not actually meet them.  Telling a story of people he did not meet in person has a much different effect.  Just because he did not meet these people does not mean that they do not exist or that their lives are easy, it just limits his credibility when he says that he spoke with these people.  The interview Glass did with Daisey’s translator Cathy gave light to his lies in the play.  One part that especially annoyed me was about the teenage workers.  Daisey admits that, while he claimed that he met a worker who was 12 years old, this never actually happened.  She just looked young.  As someone who has often been mistaken for being younger than I am, this bothers me.  Child labor is an extremely controversial issue that many people feel passionately about.  I have no doubt that underage workers are employed at Foxconn and other large manufacturers, but this does not mean that he should lie about meeting these young workers simply to get a point across.

While Mike Daisey was definitely a liar in his play, I am not sure if he was an “unethical” liar.  It seems as though he really did mean the best by making this play.  While this play is full of stories that did not actually happen to Daisey, he just wanted to get the word out about what he heard and saw while in Shenzhen about the subpar working conditions.  If he had included a disclaimer in his performance saying that not everything in the play actually happened to him, people would not have reacted as they did.  It would cause sympathy from the audience, but without the feeling of being misled.  The most unethical thing that Daisey did in my eyes was, by not admitting to the false truths in his story, essentially pretend that everything in the play was true and did happen to him.  This I find to be unethical.

I thought it was interesting to compare the Bucknell Tech/No’s production of “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” with the podcast we listened to a few weeks ago.  I thought the play was a little long and dragged on, but it may have been simply because I had already heard a large portion of it listening to the TAL podcast.  Putting the repetitiveness aside, it was interesting to hear what Bucknell changed when putting on the performance.  I think it was interesting that the play was interrupted every so often to provide corrections to “facts” given in the play.  I thought that was a powerful way to address the controversy stemming from Mike Daisey’s podcast on This American Life.  It directly combats what Mike Daisey said happened to him in Shenzhen, which I thought was important to do.  Performing the play without acknowledging the lies within it would have done it too much justice.  One part that I particularly enjoyed about how Bucknell performed the play was the narrators in lab coats.  It reminded me, as I’m sure it was supposed to, of the original Apple 1984 commercial.  I thought it was a nice way to tie together the old commercial with the present day story.

As far as Mike Daisey allowing his play to be performed or modified by anyone, I am not sure what to think of it.  On one hand, if more people and theaters perform the play, then more people will know who Mike Daisey is.  As a move purely for publicity, I understand this.  Daisey makes his living by people wanting to know what he has to say, and he can make more money if more people know and care who he is.  Even though people do not have to pay to download or perform the play, it is essentially free publicity for Daisey.  It is his willingness for the play to be modified that surprises me.  I guess once it came out that not all of the events in Daisey’s story were true and actually happened to him, it kind of makes sense.  But when you think about most plays, schools and theaters do not usually modify the play before putting it on.  They accept the play as is and choose to either perform it or not.  I guess the difference here is that most plays are taken to be fiction and the audience knows this.  Once the truth came out about Mike Daisey’s story, many less theaters would want to put it on, unless they could modify it to suit their needs.