'This American Life' Retracts Its Damning Episode About Apple And Foxconn


Photo: Apple

“This American Life” has retracted its episode on Apple and Foxconn.The episode detailed life at Foxconn and painted a damaging picture of life for employees.

It accused Foxconn of hiring 13-year-old employees and working them inhuman hours.

It turns out the person at the centre of the report, Mike Daisey, “partially fabricated” key details.

Daisey is a performance artist who had a one-man show on Apple. After seeing that show, “This American Life” producer and host Ira Glass asked him to record a modified version of the show.

In the episode, Glass said, “We have gone through his script and fact checked everything that was checkable … Overall, we checked with over a dozen people.”

“This American Life” now says Daisey “misled” the fact checkers.

It will air a full explanation on Sunday, and it will be, “separating fact from fiction, when it comes to Apple’s manufacturing practices in China.”

In the meantime, you can read a longer press release here that details much of what was wrong.

Daisey released his own statement on the matter. In short, he says, I am not a journalist and I should not have allowed my story to be presented as journalism:

“This American Life” has raised questions about the adaptation of AGONY/ECSTASY we created for their program. Here is my response:

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 licence 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 labour rights groups to document conditions in electronics manufacturing would seem to bear this out.

What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theatre 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.

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