The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth

After listening to Mike Daisey’s monologue last week, I was completely sold on the validity of his story. Hearing Mike so precisely, so vividly, and so confidently describe his trip to the Chinese factories left not even an inkling of doubt in my mind about the accuracy of the events that took place. However, throughout the 57 minutes and 35 seconds of “Retraction” and the multitude of attempts by Daisey to save-face while on the air, my confidence and trust in the accuracy of Mike Daisey’s account was shattered.

As a listener who put my trust in the accuracy of TAL’s broadcast and received bogus information, I believe Ira is completely justified in his anger towards Daisey. Regardless of Daisey’s attempted justification about his account in the context of the theatre, he was well aware that his story did not match up to the standards set by journalism and by TAL. I only spent one week living with the false perception about factories in China making Apple products set by Daisey’s monologue, and yet I feel almost taken advantage of that I was led to believe such falsities. For anyone who listened to the radio shows when they originally aired, they spent two months in between shows living their life with the same false perception. In my one week of believing Daisey’s story, I have had conversations with my friends about working conditions in Apple product producing factories and used my knowledge of Daisey’s account as support for my discussions.

However, I do understand what Mike Daisey was trying to accomplish by creating this monologue. Clearly there are still issues as far as working conditions in factories in China, and his story helps to raise awareness and strikes emotion in listeners that might not happen if the information was presented in a different way. Despite his intentions, I feel as though Daisey owes it to his audience to either truthfully represent his trip to China and what he saw, or to make his audience aware that his accounts are not completely accurate and are dramatized to raise awareness. Daisey can attempt to justify his story though the theatrical viewpoint, but I side with Ira in that as a rational human, if someone gets on stage and tells me a story in first person about something that happens to them I will assume it is the truth unless stated otherwise. Because of this, I have a tough time agreeing with Daiseys rationalization of his actions and was very surprised when Daisey refused to admit his lies and come clean in his multiple interviews.

3 thoughts on “The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth”

  1. As an regular listener of This American Life, NPR and having a sister that works in public broadcasting, I listen to news from these facets and don’t worry about the integrity of the information I’m hearing. The reason why this story is extremely controversial is because Daisey circumvented the strict standards public broadcasting has for its reporters and news. If Daisey went on WBAI 99.5 FM in NYC, a widely listened radio station, I doubt the same controversy would have surrounded Daisey. I definitely agree with you and I think you are extremely rational in your reasoning, Mike Daisey cheated, lied and deceived listeners. I’d be completely pissed if I was Ira or anyone on the This American Life team. But, by over sensationalizing this “story”, Daisey was able to create a hype around the issues Apple faces as a company, whether ethically justified or not. In news and entertainment, controversy bring attention even if it’s justifiable or not, which I would argue is what Daisey was going for.


  2. It’s so interesting how you bring up the impact that Daisey’s original story had on you. I also was going around telling people they had to listen to this and hear the “truth” about Apple; I was definitely as impacted as you were. The interesting thing is that that is exactly the reaction Daisey wanted his listeners to feel…


  3. Do you feel more taken advantage of by Daisey’s exaggerations or by Apple’s overall evasion or dissembling about the conditions in China (or the greenness of its products?)?


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