Turns out @MDaisey made up a lot of elements in his piece, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, which deals with the questionable way in which we get our shiny Apple products. Unfortunately, there were small and large lies told in the process, and This American Life is retracting the whole thing after a piece in Marketplace came out. Meanwhile, Mike Daisey’s standing by his story, as “theatre” and not “journalism”. I loved his work, and saw “If You See Something Say Something”, but I think Mike Daisey’s done a big disservice to human rights interests — the headline is likely to be “Apple’s just fine, it was all a crazy liberal lie”. I’m disappointed, to say the least.
Max Fisher at the Atlantic explains the consequences of this news well:
Now, the story isn’t Chinese labor abuses anymore. The story is Daisey’s own dishonesty, which tinges everything he touched — the made-up details as well as the truth behind them — as compromised and untrustworthy. The people who already know about Chinese labor abuses will immediately see where Daisey’s lies end and the truth begins. Those who don’t — the vast majority, who could help change the world for the better simply by expressing a preference for ethically manufactured iPads — might have a harder time figuring out where the line is. They know they were moved by Daisey’s 40-minute monologue about exploring Chinese factory towns first-hand, and they know that the monologue had to be retracted as a lie.