Oh, Please, Mike Daisey, You Know The Difference Between "theatre" And The Truth

Mike Daisey

Ever since Apple basher Mike Daisey was exposed as a liar, he has been justifying his lies as “dramatic licence” and a different sort of “truth” and so on.And he has been saying that his “mistake” was allowing the radio show “This American Life” to broadcast an excerpt of his one-man show about his fearless investigation into Apple’s manufacturing processes.

By allowing This American Life to broadcast the excerpt, Daisey seems to be saying, he allowed This American Life to mislead people into thinking that everything he said was true. And he regrets that.


theatre is theatre, and–as long as his audience knows they’re watching fiction–Mike Daisey can do and say whatever he wants on stage.

But when a reporter comes calling and asks him whether what he is saying on stage is true and Daisey lies and says “yes” and then lies again, repeatedly, in order to make it impossible for the reporter to discover that he is lying, that has nothing to do with “dramatic licence.” It’s just fraud.

And Mike Daisey obviously knows that.

As for the theatre show…

I haven’t seen The Agony And Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Mike Daisey’s (now revealed as fictional) story about how he personally traveled to China to reveal the truth about how Apple makes its products, but I am told that lots of people who have seen it thought it was true.

And the success of personal stories like that about real companies and real people and real places and real products, in which the storyteller claims to have done and seen very specific things is generally dependent on the fact that they are true.

If Mike Daisey had instead said, “This is what I imagine Apple’s manufacturing process might be like,” I doubt many people would have liked the show. Because we can all imagine what Apple’s manufacturing process might be like.

Instead, Mike Daisey told a story about how he fearlessly journeyed to China and discovered horrible truths that no one else knew about.

And people listened to him. And I’ll bet that was because they thought he was telling the truth.

So here are two questions for everyone who has seen Mike Daisey’s show.

Did you think he was telling the truth?

Do you feel differently about it now that you know he was just making stuff up?

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