Confessions: Foxconn Hoax by APM Mike Daisey

Fake Foxconn story on This American Life

While I don't want to exaggerate Foxconn as a wonderful place to work, I said from the beginning that it was nowhere nearly as bad as places like mines and textile factories in China, and the story by Mike Daisey didn't strike me as unbiased reporting.  I wrote two posts about how Foxconn is foremost a cooperative effort between Cantonese, Hong Kong, Taiwanese, and Mandarin Chinese, which is kind of a coup by itself, and I provided film from Financial Times.

But it's worse than I thought.  Not Foxconn - Mike Daisey is worse than I thought.

This afternoon's press release from American Public Media:

During fact checking before the broadcast of Daisey's story, This American Life staffers asked Daisey for this interpreter's contact information. Daisey told them her real name was Anna, not Cathy as he says in his monologue, and he said that the cell phone number he had for her didn't work any more. He said he had no way to reach her.

"At that point, we should've killed the story," says Ira Glass, Executive Producer and Host of This 
American Life. "But other things Daisey told us about Apple's operations in China 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."

So when Mike Daisey says this,
...and all these people have been exposed [to N-hexane]...Their hands shake uncontrollably. Most of them...can't even pick up a glass.
What he meant was... well Marketplace asks Daisey in this interview which sheds new "dark" on his tale... [] :
Rob Schmitz: Cathy says you did not talk to workers who were poisoned with hexane.
Mike Daisey: That’s correct.
RS: So you lied about that? That wasn’t what you saw?
MD: I wouldn’t express it that way.
RS: How would you express it?
MD: I would say that I wanted to tell a story that captured the totality of my trip.
Ira Glass: Did you meet workers like that? Or did you just read about the issue?
MD: I met workers in, um, Hong Kong, going to Apple protests who had not been poisoned by hexane but had known people who had been, and it was a constant conversation among those workers.
IG: So you didn’t meet an actual worker who’d been poisoned by hexane.
MD: That’s correct.
Now maybe people will remember the great "E-Waste Hoax" of Africa, and ask themselves, when does passion do more harm than good?

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