The Retraction


Listening to the retraction brought up a lot of complex issues for me.  First, there was the feeling of betrayal considering the fact that Daisey was lying about a lot of the details in his story.  Contrasting this however was the idea that there still are some serious issues with Foxconn, and Apple that need to be addressed.  Overall, I think that it comes down to what Daisey said when confronted with the issue, which was that he shouldn’t have published it on the radio as journalism, even though the theatrical aspects of it still serve an important purpose, and the piece itself still holds a lot of value.  In a way its almost reminiscent of PETA videos that show extreme instances of animal cruelty that may not be pervasive everywhere, but do make an important point.

In the end I think the biggest problem with the story was not that Daisey lied, but instead that he published it on the radio, and then continued to lie.  Which brings up the question of whether or not it would have been taken seriously if he had been honest from the beginning.  Would saying that his dramatization was based on stories, and second hand experience as well as interviews have changed the message it sent to the audience.  Would this have made it more for entertainment, and less of a philosophical piece?  Personally, I think that it would have.  When you look at the impact the piece has made, and the conversations its started I think it was worth telling the lies Daisey told.  In a sense, I think he can even be considered a martyr, who (accidentally) scarified his professional career, and reputation to start conversations on human rights in an industrial era. 

At the same time, I recognize the other side of the issue, which is that Apple is trying to make changes in their policies, and crack down on inhumane practices.  With this said, Daisey does discredit this positive work, instead of reinforcing it, which in turn disincentives companies to make meaningful changes.  Overall, Daiseys view of the issue is not well rounded, and does not take in all the factors contributing to the situation, and for this reason I believe it definitely should never have been taken as a serious academic piece.  On a final note, I will say that I agree with Daisey on the fact that as a work of theatre his monologue still does have great value.

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3 responses to “The Retraction

  1. I enjoyed reading your response to Mike Daisey’s retraction and agreed with many of the points you made. I agree that his work should not have been journalism, and that it did provide a great theatrical value and created conversations amongst companies and the public that otherwise may not have occured. In the back of my mind I do have to question whether he knew he would get caught with his fabrications from the beginning. As soon as he went on This American Life and refused to give information on Cathy, part of me feels he knew he would get caught, but that it would create an even bigger stir. He is a performer, and so I guess I am just a little sceptical of his orignal intentions. Regardless, I do believe that his lies were wrong and he has not only tainted his image, but also discreditted some of the really impactful points he made. On the other hand, it got the ball rolling…

  2. I have the same questions you do regarding Daisey and his fraudulent encounters. I believe the piece would have been just as powerful if Daisey had given an honest depiction of his time in China, however, the piece was meant to start a conversation – which he was successfully able to do. I again believe the point you make regarding Apple and Foxconn and how Mike Daisey could have consequentially discredited their positive work, is something to be thought about. It’s difficult to pick a side when you are still hesitant who is telling the complete truth.

  3. Pingback: Who Checks the Checkers? | Business, Government and Society fiVe·

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