Driving Mr. Daisey


“I think you can trust my word in the context of the theater.” Apparently Mr. Daisey justifies his lies as art, but who am I to say he is wrong? During his second interview on TAL, he takes his time as he carefully selects his words and masterfully paints them delicately onto his canvas of lies. He treads ever so lightly around every contested issue in his story, not once admitting anything was an outright lie. Mike seems to feel that the ends justify the means and since his message is a noble one, who cares that he fudged some of the details? Certainly he doesn’t. He was not conflicted at all about performing his show, but he felt sick and conflicted about TAL spreading them to a broader audience. However, I don’t think that trapped and uneasy feeling came from willfully spreading misinformation. But from the inevitability of his web of lies slowly coming undone. 

Rob Schmitz could not have been the first person to notice fallacies in Daisey’s story since there were so many obviously fabricated details that are apparent to anyone educated in Chinese policies. Just like Rob’s Google search for “Cathy Shenzhen translator” my search for “China gun laws” produces the first result of “Possession of firearms is prohibited in China, with exceptions for government authorities, sport shooters, hunters, and farmers” So unless the people on TAL think Foxcom is guarded by farmers with pitchforks in one had and M4’s in the other, this is a pretty glaring fabrication.

When Mike comes back on the show to apologize for a second time, Ira seems more audibly displeased that the first follow up interview. The tone of the first interview was very odd, neither Rob nor Ira seem very confrontational or upset about the blatant deception and lies. They attitude towards Daisey seems to be that of a parent who doesn’t want to hurt their child’s feelings for doing something wrong, but they still want to let them know they are disappointed. If Daisey had me going around supporting his lies I would be pissed and I would want people to know I how pissed I was. Especially if he tarnished the reputation of my radio show. So why did they take it so easy on him? Could it have had something to do with the fact that the Daisy podcast episode was the most downloaded episode of all time? Outside of this class and this specific podcast, I haven’t listened to TAL before. So is this what TAL was hoping to achieve? The job of a journalist is to tell the truth, but the goal of a journalist is to get the most press. It is hard to think a reputable institution such as TAL allowed so many lies to slip through their fact checkers…and it raises even more questions. 

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9 responses to “Driving Mr. Daisey

  1. I disagree that TAL went too easy on Mike Daisey. Rob Schmitz was very harsh on Mr. Daisey and you could tell that he had to think a long time about the unforgiving questions directed towards him. Mr. Daisey was very political in his answers. It was evident that he knew he had made some very big mistakes. I also think, though, that TAL had a tough role to play. They obviously wanted to apologize for their mistake by being tough on Mr. Daisey, but they also want to remain a respectable radio show. I think that they ultimately balanced those two sides nicely.

  2. I believe TAL did an appropriate job speaking with and responding to Mike Daisey, too. I found Mr. Daisey to be wildly immature as he avoided taking responsibility for his actions prior to the show airing and never truly admitted his mistakes. If TAL were to have become angered during the interview, the intensity of the lies would have been further masked by the emotions, which would have been essentially the same as the original podcast.

  3. Rob mentioned something that I hadn’t really thought about until reading his post; why did they take it so easy on him? Mr. Daisey, although he won’t admit to it, lied to everyone about his trip to China. I want to know what ended up happening to him. I want to know what TAL did in response to Mr. Daisey’s proved lies. Has he lost all credibility as an entertainer/author? Was he considered credible before? What’s he doing now?

  4. I really liked your stance on the follow up interviews and the tone that was involved. I couldn’t agree more. If someone had tainted my reputation and essentially mocked my profession I would not let it stand. So I agree that the tone was lacking some certain emotions. One of the things that was brought up in the follow up apology segment was the idea that you can only capture people’s attention and emotions by manipulating the facts. It is evident that people were taken in by his monologue, due to the massive number of downloads of the podcast. But to lie on such a massive scale should have some sort of consequence. His way of justifying his lies was that you can trust his word in the context of the theater, and he regrets the context that it was put in for TAL. Well if it was meant to be taken as theater, perhaps some sort of disclaimer would have been nice.

  5. I think that a disclaimer at the beginning of the performance would have been a great idea. Although it would lose some of its shock value, it is important for the audience to know that some parts of the story was fabricated or exaggerated. He could have included a statement in the disclaimer that said something to the effect of “Although not all of this story is true, these things are happening in the world and we need to take notice.”

    • I also agree that, if TAL were more aggressive in their tone, it would have lead Mike to lie more in an attempt to avoid responsibility. However, when Daisey tried to justify his lies and asked for pity about how sick he felt for placing the show on TAL, they should have called him out right there. I do not like sensational journalism, but it can be even more irritating when the journalist is afraid to ask difficult questions. And I think that if Daisey had a disclaimer before his show, even one as vague as a movie’s “based on true events,” people wouldn’t take it all as fact. Apparently this isn’t the first time Daisey has done this since Ira states that he thought other shows Daisey performed were fact as well.

  6. I agree with your stance. If my shows reputation were on the line, because I aired/advertised this story as a legitimate and it turns our the person was blatantly lying, I would also be pissed. My show, my job, and my livelihood could all potentially be ruined because I put my neck outside for this person who was just trying to gain attention, and when he claims that the fabrications were “art” I would be even more pissed, because at no point did he advertise this.I would feel embarrassed and I would personally go after Mr. Daisey and seek some kind of compensation for the damage done.

  7. I agree with your last comments and never thought that TAL could have actually known the faults but aired it to get press. It wouldn’t surprise me that they did this to gain more listeners since the listeners is what keeps their show going. It begs the question why they couldn’t find faults initially when a simple google search would have easily showed them the facts. TAL should probably hire better fact checkers if they truly did miss all of the faults.

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