After listening to the Retraction podcast on This American Life, I found myself in awe of Mike Daisey. Not that he is a celebrity, but the change in persona, character, and confidence that I saw between the two podcasts was drastic. Obviously, his entire position was being questioned and probed and he was justifiably squirmy and nervous, but the view I had of him before is now completely gone. I could not believe how poorly he handled the questions about his facts and his monologue. He did not do himself a service by even coming on to TAL again. If he was going to he should have had a strong united front and told the people whom had spread his story worldwide that he had made a horrible journalistic mistake and that he should be held accountable for it. Instead, he came off as selfish and unable to admit the mistake that he most assuredly made. He went down a slippery slope, and should have taken the approach that TAL did when they found out about the story’s inaccuracies. They attacked the issue by explaining what went wrong and working hard to show their listeners how it happened and that it won’t again.
Despite the lies, the fabrications, and the made-up stories, the situation in Shenzhen is unquestionably awful. If what Mike Daisey was trying to do was to show people across the world that this was going on, then he succeeded. But he went about it awfully. He should have let everybody know that his monologue was not a piece of journalism and instead a story with hyperbole that could have been justifiably inserted to bring to light what is a serious problem with the way America’s favorite company makes their revolutionary products.
The main fabrication that stuck out to me was Mike Daisey’s telling of his running into 12, 13, and 14 year old factory workers outside the gates of the FoxConn workplace. It has been proven that FoxConn uses 16 and 17 year old underage workers in their factories. Was that not enough to get people’s attention? Did he have to harp on the outlandish numbers of 12 and 13 year old workers when even his translator said he never met these people. For me, this is when Mike Daisey only dug himself deeper in the podcast. He says that these kids spoke English to him and that either his translator didn’t hear or their English wasn’t good enough for her to understand. These lies are completely unbelievable to me for they are worse than his original ones. TAL came out a winner here in a losing situation and Mike Daisey only compounded his mistakes by not being truthful about the hard work that he had actually done.