'This American Life' Retracts Show About Apple Factory Conditions
March 16, 2012 at 11:46 AM (PT)
PUBLIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL and CHICAGO PUBLIC MEDIA noncommercial News-Talk WBEZ/CHICAGO's "THIS AMERICAN LIFE" has retracted a JANUARY episode, the most downloaded podcast episode in the show's history, about working conditions at the FOXCONN plant making APPLE products in CHINA after discovering that the story, told by monologist MIKE DAISEY, was "partially fabricated." This week's edition of the show will be devoted to the retraction.
A press release from the show's producers says that MARKETPLACE reporter ROB SCHMITZ researched the story after it aired and interviewed DAISEY's Chinese interpreter, who DAISEY, before the show aired, said was unreachable. SCHMITZ found that the interpreter's story and DAISEY's were in conflict; Host and Exec. Producer IRA GLASS, in the release, said that "we should have killed the story" after DAISEY said that the interpreter was unreachable, but that other things in the story "checked out, and we saw no reason to doubt him. We didn't think that he was lying to us and to audiences about the details of his story. That was a mistake."
DAISEY, responding to the retraction, said, "I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. It uses a combination of fact, memoir and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity. Certainly, the comprehensive investigations undertaken by THE NEW YORK TIMES and a number of labor rights groups to document conditions in electronics manufacturing would seem to bear this out.
"What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed THIS AMERICAN LIFE to air an excerpt from my monologue. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is essentially a journalistic -- not a theatrical -- enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations. But this is my only regret. I am proud that my work seems to have sparked a growing storm of attention and concern over the often appalling conditions under which many of the high-tech products we love so much are assembled in CHINA."