After listening to the ‘Retracted’ radio show, I am now very conflicted about the FoxConn/ Apple Factory story. On the one hand, I am disturbed that Mike Daisey would go to such lengths to fabricate a story that generated a lot of debate about the behavior of Apple. Yet, on the other hand, I am somewhat sympathetic to what he was ultimately trying to do. After traveling to China and interviewing factory workers, Daisey was clearly disturbed by what he discovered and wanted to ensure that his observations were heard by the public. Clearly, the factory conditions in China are not great and there are certainly many risks to working the long hours that many of these workers do. However, Daisey clearly did not feel that the ‘true’ story was powerful enough to raise awareness about the issue and motivate people to question Apple’s actions. He chose to exaggerate many aspects of the story, such as meeting people who had been poisoned by Hexane, based on stories that he claims to have heard about in order to generate an emotional response from his audience. Obviously, his strategy proved to be successful as his story quickly spread across US news and social media and he was hosted on numerous other shows to speak about the issue.
All this being said, Daisey’s actions are completely unacceptable. For two years, Daisey fully contends that a story filled with lies is completely true, leading many people to unnecessarily question Apple’s actions. Though taking a closer look into the factory conditions of Apple’s suppliers is probably a good thing, the way that Daisey goes about raising the issue is completely unfair to Apple and can be considered as a type of defamation. Maybe Apple should put more effort into ensuring that its suppliers provide suitable conditions for their workers, but scrutinizing them based on made up information is not the way to go about.
Personally, I believe that the most important aspect of the whole incident was the fact that Mike Daisey proclaims himself as a ‘journalist’ and reports the story as it is news. By doing this, he implies that every single detail of his story is factual and that there is little room for interpretation. If he had gone ahead and labeled it as a ‘memoir’ and allowed people to listen to it in a ‘theatrical context’ as he claims he should have done, then there wouldn’t be such a big problem. The story probably would have still generated strong discussion about Apple’s corporate behavior, but it would have left the door open for people to question the reality of the situation.