“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 Also, Ira even admits that Kathy’s memory might be outdated since he questioned her two years after Daisey visited Foxconn.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”?