It’s Almost True


“I worried about [exposing the truth] all the time.”

This rhetoric continued throughout the podcast as Mike Daisey retracted and apologized for the fabrication of his trip to Foxconn. Inviting Daisey onto the radio show after blatant falsifications of factory conditions was used to publicize his deceptions and to retain listeners of the podcast (solely for Ira’s benefit). However, Daisey did not admit to his wrongdoings, but rather provided additional context to his stories. His apologies seemed insincere, and I often wondered who he was trying to convince. Had he lied himself into oblivion? Was Ira’s tone and reaction overbearing? I wondered how Daisey’s sentiments truly impacted society’s perspective of Apple, and whether one was affected by the alarming skepticism surrounding the story.

Did Mike Daisey lie to several people in his monologue and on the podcast? Yes. Did the retracted statements and exposed facts of the story make a difference? Not really. The overarching truth of factory conditions remains the same: workers in the Foxconn factory endure harsh living and working conditions. Daisey lied about guns at the factory gate and injuries that did not occur at Foxconn, but the small, untrue details should not detract from the crucial problem mentioned above. Ira criticized Daisey’s dishonesty by breaking down each sentence piece-by-piece, but I found his tactic extremely biased and unfair; Ira’s persistence on political and ethical correctness is not justified. Sure, Daisey lied about underage workers, the number of people he spoke to at Foxconn, and other specifics, but they are not all entirely false. Ira frames his argument around Daisey lying to the public and questions how people can trust him after this incident, yet I challenge that argument by claiming he only fabricated his personal experience. Even Ira states that Daisey gathered information from news sources, making some instances true, though Daisey did not witness them himself. Also, Ira even admits that Kathy’s memory might be outdated since he questioned her two years after Daisey visited Foxconn. Thus, Ira’s flagrant criticism is not warranted since Daisey only lied about what he witnessed, not what continues to occur in factories today.

Ira suggests the idea of Daisey changing his monologue to account for factual representation of what resulted from his visit to Foxconn. Daisey stood by his claims and his experiences, and only admitted to falsifying minor details in his story. One thing Ira and Daisey did not mention in the original podcast was the necessity of jobs and the acceptance of workplace environments in China. As Americans, we have a biased perspective of our organization’s culture with a clear expectation of respect from our superiors. It was stated that the working wage at Foxconn was comparable to any minimum wage job in China; the wage does not provide sufficient living standards, but it allows individuals to be comfortable nonetheless. So, what if that’s the expectation for low-wage jobs in Shenzhen? Yes, the environment is toxic and unsuitable for any individual, but they at least have a bed, a meal, and a job every day. What would be their alternative? What if that is the only job they can find?

In the end, we must hold Apple accountable for their actions. Falsified information and dramatic retractions does nothing except gather more listeners for the podcasts while questioning the credibility of Mike Daisey. In short, the actions of Daisey should not divert attention away from the concerning conditions at Foxconn. After all, what was truly achieved by this “retraction”?

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4 thoughts on “It’s Almost True

  1. I like the point you raise that TAL was only so quick to retract the podcast and issue an apology so as to retain viewers. Still, if they are truly a organization committed to truth in journalism, many of their claims in objection to Daisey’s actions are warranted. I also agree that retracting this podcast does little to change the reality of what is occurring at Foxconn, regardless of whether or not Daisey actually experienced these things during this visit. I have also considered the cultural differences in what are considered acceptable working conditions both here and in China. I think that part of the reason these sorts of harsh working conditions continue to exists–as you mention–is that people need some sort of job to survive. Regardless, I believe that there are things Apple can do to increase the standard of living of those individuals making its products.

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  2. I think that the point you made about the living wage was especially interesting. Like you said it was stated that the wages paid at Foxconn was comparable to any minimum wage job in China, with Foxconn lacking in environmental safety for their workers. At what point is it still acceptable for U.S consumers to step in and say that it is unfair, when that is mainly due to the stark differences between what we consider a minimum, livable wage.

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  3. I agree that there is an important difference between Daisey’s fabrications about his experiences and the overall conditions. Not many people make that distinction.

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  4. I doubt Foxconn is literally the only job. For sure there is a problem in China (and here) with under- and un-employment. But I question if the idea out there that it is a choice between exploitation and starvation does not obscure more (about alternatives) than it purports to reveal.

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