- By Isaac Stone FishIsaac Stone Fish is Asia Editor. A Mandarin speaker, he lived in China for seven years before moving to Washington DC. His articles have also appeared in the New York Times, the Economist, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, and he has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, Al-Jazeera, and PRI, among others.
Oops. Public radio show This American Life announced early today that they could no longer stand by an episode they broadcast in January featuring Mike Daisey, the author of a popular monologue about Apple supplier Foxconn in China. A Marketplace reporter (a show from the same family as This American Life) found that Daisey had fabricated a number of scenes with people claiming they had suffered from working for Foxconn. Ira Glass, host of This American Life, offers a stunningly direct mea culpa for the show; he says in hindsight they should have killed the story before broadcasting:
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 he was lying to us and to audiences about the details of the story. That was a mistake.”
In a blog post today, Daisey responded that he stands by his work, explaining that his show uses a “combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license.” He adds, “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.”
Kudos to Glass for issuing an apology for a story gone wrong, and taking charge of the narrative before anyone else really picked Daisey’s story apart. China is a maddeningly complex place to report, and one wonders if this will trigger other disclosures.
Update: Mike Daisey had earlier excoriated tech journalists for committing the "terrible sin" of evading our "responsibilities.” Oy.
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.| Passport |