After my suspicions about the credibility of Mike Daisey‘s story, I was so happy to
hear “Retraction.” Almost every story Mr. Daisey told was uncovered as either exaggerated
or completely falsified, which is pretty shocking. I actually immediately began to wonder if
the Chinese interpreter would be included in this episode and I was happy to discover she was
almost the main focus! After locating Cathy via a Google search, Rob Schmitz was able to
ask her questions about her experience with Mr. Daisey. She confirmed the falsity of most of
Mr. Daisey’s stories, citing that much of the cultural differences between China and America
were not understood by Mr. Daisey.
I decided to try Googling “Cathy translator Shenzhen.” It would make an equally shocking
episode if Cathy wasn’t, in fact, Google-able. As mentioned in the episode, the first webpage
that popped up was a direct link to Cathy’s contact information: http://bbs.chinadaily.com.cn/
thread-736700-1-1.html, complete with a picture and short biography. That webpage links
visitors to her “own” website, which is actually an “interpretation and consulting” services
company that serves foreign companies: http://www.shenzhenhelper.com/. The website
lists 2 interpreters/translators: Cathy Lee and Daniel Lee. Cathy’s credentials are clear; she
is experienced and her fluency extends to knowledge of different industries–ones that Mr.
Daisey would be interested in. I decided to call the number that Cathy lists on her page, just
to see if the number went through. It didn’t work, as a voice on the other end told me that
the international number I was calling was not “allowed from this line” (my cell phone).
I’m not sure what to think of that, but considering the voice at the other end didn’t tell me
the number “did not exist,” I have no reason to believe that the number does not ultimately
reach Cathy. After reading her bio, however, I have absolute confidence that Cathy was a
reliable source in the “Retraction” episode. Mr. Daisey was silly to assume that no one would
question his story, especially with a (hopefully) contactable and qualified translator.
Back on the Google results page, the third link down referred me to Cathy’s LinkedIn page,
which is similarly professional in nature to her other webpages. The rest of the web results to
the Google search simply cite the Mike Daisey scandal and ease to which it was uncovered
by Googling “Cathy translator Shenzhen.” So, after fact-checking the fact-checkers, I can
confidently say that This American Life‘s blunder has officially been retracted.
- Real vs. Fiction (bizgovsocfive.wordpress.com)
- “Retraction”: What are being wrong in this podcast? (bizgovsoc4.wordpress.com)
- Retraction Podcast (Analysis and not on underage workers) (bizgovsoc4.wordpress.com)