This American Life Retracts Foxconn Story

Says piece on Apple's China factories had 'significant fabrications'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2012 3:26 PM CDT
In this May 26, 2010 file photo, staff members work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

(Newser) – A compelling account of the abuses at Apple's China factories became This American Life's most popular podcast ever, with 888,000 downloads, but now the radio show is retracting the story due to "significant fabrications." The 39-minute piece by monologuist Mike Daisey was excerpted from Daisey's one-man show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, and ran in January. But TAL discovered that Daisey did not actually visit some of the factories he claimed to have visited, and fabricated some of the worker interviews he claimed to have conducted. The Atlantic Wire notes that Daisey's TAL episode "arguably started the recent spate of articles examining Apple manufacturer Foxconn."

Daisey also allegedly lied to TAL executive producer Ira Glass about his interpreter's name and falsely said her phone number no longer worked. That interpreter now disputes portions of Daisey's account, and says a particularly dramatic line (an injured worker calling the iPad "kind of magic") was never actually uttered. Marketplace, another public radio program, first broke the story by locating the interpreter. "We're horrified to have let something like this onto public radio," Glass wrote today. Daisey admits he took "a few shortcuts," but stands by his story as "theater" rather than journalism, and Marketplace points out that "the things Daisey lied about seeing are things that have actually happened in China." Click for that report, Daisey's response, or NPR's coverage.

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