This American Life Retracts Story About Apple Critic

When it comes to podcasting, one of the most downloaded shows I know is This American Life. I even saw Ira Glass during his tour of Australia and enjoy several other shows like it, such as Snap Judgement, and it has influenced the work I do on Token Skeptic. So naturally, when I see several links to a story about the show from friends pop up, I go to check it out.

The news my friends had for me? “This American Life Retracts Story  - Says It Can’t Vouch for the Truth of Mike Daisey’s Monologue about Apple in China”.

This is from Marketplace.org - An acclaimed Apple critic made up the details:


From the Business Insider - Ira Glass: Here’s Everything That Was Made Up In Our Big Apple Foxconn Story:

…Mike Daisey, meanwhile, became one of the company’s most visible and outspoken critics, appearing on television and giving dozens of interviews about Apple.

Some of the falsehoods found in Daisey’s monologue are small ones: the number of factories Daisey visited in China, for instance, and the number of workers he spoke with. Others are large. In his monologue he claims to have met a group of workers who were poisoned on an iPhone assembly line by a chemical called n-hexane. Apple’s audits of its suppliers show that an incident like this occurred in a factory in China, but the factory wasn’t located in Shenzhen, where Daisey visited.

“It happened nearly a thousand miles away, in a city called Suzhou,” Marketplace’s Schmitz says in his report. “I’ve interviewed these workers, so I knew the story. And when I heard Daisey’s monologue on the radio, I wondered: How’d they get all the way down to Shenzhen? It seemed crazy, that somehow Daisey could’ve met a few of them during his trip.”
In Schmitz’s report, he confronts Daisey and Daisey admits to fabricating these characters.

“I’m not going to say that I didn’t take a few shortcuts in my passion to be heard,” Daisey tells Schmitz and Glass. “My mistake, the mistake I truly regret, is that I had it on your show as journalism, and it’s not journalism. It’s theater.”

…then I see this on Twitter and (despite the arguments about whether this will cloud further investigations, if people will take claims of unethical business less seriously, if Apple might sue TAL…) snorfed.

and another update…

About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.


    Ah, so we have another Michael Moore on our hands.

  • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

    Too many people are like this. “This is bad and it’s about someone I don’t like (Republican and/or big corporation), so it must be true. No need to check further.”

    • Kylie Sturgess

      I’m glad TAL are making a big effort to do something about it – the new podcast is out (link in the first paragraph as well).

  • http://mylittlepodcast.blogspot.com Shaded Spriter

    I ws behind on podcasts and TAL is low on my list so the apple episode got deleted I heard about the thing and the fact it was mostly an over-reaction on the poddelusion I believe (comparing Foxcom’s suicide rates to the general population in china and other things.)

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Over-reaction on the PodDelusion? I must have missed that – just checked over the website and I couldn’t see anything. Mind, I have been meaning to contribute to PodDelusion again and I’m behind on doing so. Maybe I could write something about that for them? Thanks!