I can personally say that I felt somewhat embarrassed as Ira Glass began to break down Mike Daisey’s arguement or monologue that we listened to last week. Last Sunday, I typed out a blog post on this same Apple laptop that I’m using now about how I was startled by the “truths” Daisey appeared to expose about Apple and Foxconn. I wondered aloud what types of hardships the people who produced my keyboard faced while making it. Additionally, I believed Daisey to be sincere, passionate, and trustworthy. I thought he was the real deal, and he was doing a fantastic job of raising awareness to what really happens at Foxconn. Seeing as Daisey’s monologue was the most downloaded podcast in the history of This American Life, I’m sure I’m not alone in this situation.
All the air has come out of the sails at this point. Every minute, Daisey’s assertions such as 12 year old workers, underground union meetings at Starbucks, injured hands, and guards with guns were broken down and proven to be false. The more I think about it, Daisey’s details were questionable even the first time I heard them. However, he told a great story, and the passion in his voice made me want to believe what he was saying. I wanted to believe he was truly trying to make a difference, and not simply advance his personal career. “Everything in this monologue is built out of my trip.” This is the line Daisey answers with when asked if he simply lied to his listeners. Clearly afraid of the negative connotation surrounding the word “lie”, Daisey pauses for a long time before dodging the question with this answer. Last week, he seemed to burst with confidence and could do no wrong. Now, he sounds defeated. He seems more concerned about saving his reputation then conveying to the listeners what the truth actually is.
This is what the problem with this situation really is. I don’t doubt that Foxconn has many issues, and Apple needs to take action in some areas. I believe that the Foxconn employees do face poor conditions and a lack of worker’s rights. The problem with what Daisey did is that he takes all the good out of his argument, and forces people only to focus on the lies that he told. The Mike Daisey Foxconn story is now about Mike Daisey, and not Foxconn. He did a good job raising awareness and getting the word out there about Apple and Foxconn. However, all of that is gone now because Daisey chose to exaggerate the story and advance his career instead of focusing on honest reporting and getting the facts right. He lost all credibility. I take away from this experience a lesson about how one always needs to take news or stories they come across with a grain of salt. Mike Daisey did a lot of good things, but his failure to act ethically and with integrity tore down what once was an extremely powerful story.