The central issue raised is this podcast is: did Daisey lie? And if he did lie, how does this affect the legitimacy of his story? When confronted, Daisey doesn’t seem all that remorseful about embellishing some of the details of his “play,” regretting only the fact that he agreed to air his story of TAL. He maintains that his story of Apple and Foxconn was theatre, not journalism and seems to use this as a means to rationalize his deliberate stretching of the truth. An interesting quote I found from googling truth in journalism reads, “On this there is absolute unanimity and also utter confusion: Everyone agrees journalists must tell the truth. Yet people are fuddled about what “the truth” means….” I think this really gets to the core of this problem and raises some of the fundamental philosophical concerns of what “truth” actually encompasses and constitutes.
One point of contention in the philosophy of truth is whether it is subjective or objective. From an objective standpoint, it can be argued that Daisey did tell the truth about most of the things that were happening in China. However, he lied about his subjective experiences, those things that he physically encountered during his visit to the Foxconn plant in Shenzhen. An example of this is the n-hexane story; this was a true story that happened at a plant in China, but Daisey did not actually interact with this person during his visit. So, does this damage the legitimacy of what Daisey is trying to reveal about Apple? From an objective view, because most of what Daisey said did legitimately occur—whether or not Daisy saw these things firsthand—this story is still effective in what it was intended to do.
Furthermore, the story of this podcast and its subsequent removal from TAL speaks to the issue of journalism vs. the arts. I tend to associate journalism as a field more associated with and committed to the truth. The arts, in contrast, are often fiction and fantasy, meant to evoke strong emotions from the viewer. With this in mind, I think there is some legitimacy to Daisey’s claim that his story was a form of art, of theatre. Many of the blog posts from last week are evidence to the sorts of strong emotions that Daisey’s story creates in the audience. There is no doubting that Daisey’s story is effective in making us reconsider everything we know about Apple. Sure, Daisey may not have acted in the most wholly ethical or moral manner, but are these ideals really as important in the arts as they are in journalism?
Certainly, I am in no way condoning Daisey’s actions and dishonesty with regards to certain facts in the story, but I believe he deserves some credit it his commitment to getting his message heard and advancing his cause. Was TAL more concerned with providing the truth or protecting their own public image? I think a strong case can be made on both sides of this debate. A closing point: what’s more important here, the big picture of what’s actually going on at Foxconn or the minute details of what some guy named Mike Daisey experienced during his trip to China?