20 March 2012, terribly early in the morning
As you may or may not have heard, Mike Daisey took several liberties in telling his story about the Foxconn factories in China that Apple uses to build their junk. A lot has already been written on this topic, and I’d have ignored the story if I hadn’t written about it myself.
Daisey’s take on things is that what he does is theatre, and the liberties he took with the truth improve the story. There I agree: his radio piece was really quite engaging. I wouldn’t have written so much about the story had it not be so good. His piece wouldn’t have been the same if the story wasn’t told in the first person the way it was. He presents his stage show as non-fiction. His definition of what that means in the context of theatre is clearly different than what most people think a piece of non-fiction is. That said, I don’t think i’d be that put-off had his work remained in the theatre.
The thing is, he represented his work to NPR as if it was completely true. His interaction with NPR suggests he knew he was deceiving them and that they wouldn’t (and couldn’t) be cool with his piece if they knew so much of the story was fabricated and half-truths. It’s one thing to say a bunch of things happened in a stage show and other to repeat that fiction when interviewed by reporters. That latter is just good old fashioned lying. He lied repeatedly to Ira Glass and other NPR producers. He lied repeatedly to other reporters who interviewed him subsequently. He’s really just a liar.
To NPR’s credit they dedicated a whole show to a retraction of their previous story. It’s well worth listening to. It’s as engaging as the original podcast. NPR clearly feels horrible they aired the piece.
The Mac blogosphere’s response to this story is as boring and obnoxious as their initial reaction. The best reaction i’ve read about all of this comes from Defective Yeti: Putting the I in Story.