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NPR Retracts Mike Daisey’s Foxconn Expose, The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs

Submitted by on March 18, 2012 – 10:12 am7 Comments

The NPR program This American Life has retracted the most popular broadcast in its history, saying they no longer stand behind the factual accuracy of the excerpt they played from theater artist Mike Daisey‘s one-man show, The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs. The producers learned that Daisey lied or exaggerated about several experiences from his trip to Foxconn manufacturing sites in China that produce iPads for Apple.

Daisey’s (and NPR’s) piece was arguably the start of the current wave of Apple criticism that includes a front page NYT investigation, petitions, and the first ever outside audit of the Foxconn production facilities. While many claims Daisey made have been borne out by these investiagtions, this news will still be a blow to the movement’s credibility.

Daisey’s one-man show tells the story of his trip to China to see working conditions at a Foxconn facility. In a statement, NPR claims much of his story checked out; but Marketplace reporter Mike Schmitz came forward to dispute an episode of worker mistreatment Daisey had described, which had actually taken place at a different facility a thousand miles away.

Schmitz then tracked down Daisey’s Chinese translator, whom the actor had previously claimed was unavailable. The woman disputed or denied several events Daisey described, including a meeting with an assembly line worker who had been “injured” at work, and had never seen an operational iPad before.

On his website, Daisey also published a (much briefer) statement, saying he “stands by his work,” which “uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story.” But Daisey clarifies that his work is “not journalism,” and says he regrets letting This American Life, “a journalistic ­- not a theatrical ­- enterprise,” air the excerpt.

Elsewhere on Daisey’s website, it says his monologues “weave together autobiography, gonzo journalism, and unscripted performance” (my emphasis).

What do you think? Will these revelations affect the criticisms of Apple?

[via The Atlantic Wire]

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