[Marxism] Mike Daisey's bullshit

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 19 07:40:08 MDT 2012


This American Life’s ‘Retraction’
Posted on Mar 18, 2012

“This American Life” Host Ira Glass gave monologist Mike Daisey 
every opportunity to explain the lies in his “Agony and Ecstasy of 
Steve Jobs” performance, which became the basis for one of the 
radio show’s most popular and talked about episodes. Daisey’s 
rationalization for lying turns out to be, like much of his show, 

Essentially, Daisey says that his monologue, which chronicles a 
2010 visit to China during which he claims to have witnessed or 
heard about terrible labor abuses at Foxconn and other factories, 
is true—not by the standards of journalism, but by the standards 
of the theater. What an insult to theater.

Here he is in his own words: “Well, I don’t know that I would say 
in a theatrical context that it isn’t true. I believe that when I 
perform it in a theatrical context in the theater that when people 
hear the story in those terms that we have different languages for 
what the truth means.”

“This American Life” actually fact-checked Daisey’s show, but, as 
the host explains in the recording below, they were more concerned 
with confirming Daisey’s claim that Apple’s factories actually had 
terrible working environments, and they do. But they were not 
thorough enough when it came to Daisey’s claims of personal 
interactions, several of which later proved to be false. The 
whistle-blower in all this is Daisey’s translator, who is herself 
a character in the story and was tracked down by a skeptical 
“Marketplace” reporter.

“This American Life” devoted an entire episode, which aired this 
weekend, to retraction of the story, and it’s embedded below. In 
it, Glass confronts Daisey, who admits he wanted to make people 
care about an important story: “I’m not going to say that I didn’t 
take a few shortcuts in my passion to be heard. But I stand behind 
the work. My mistake, the mistake that I truly regret is that I 
had it on your show as journalism and it’s not journalism. It’s 
theater. I use the tools of theater and memoir to achieve its 
dramatic arc and of that arc and of that work I am very proud 
because I think it made you care, Ira, and I think it made you 
want to delve. And my hope is that it makes – has made- other 
people delve.”

It’s important to remember that the essence of Daisey’s story—that 
Apple drives a consumer-industrial complex that dehumanizes and 
abuses Chinese laborers—is true. And it is because of this that 
the performer’s lies are so offensive, because they cast doubt on 
the work of anyone struggling to dig up the truth on behalf of the 
powerless.  —PZS

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