Response to Retraction

When Mike Daisey comes back to the studio to talk again, he explains his rational for his “embellishments”. He states that when he visited the Foxconn factory, outrage over the 17 Foxconn suicides was beginning to die down. Daisey argues that all of his embellishments were made in the name of human rights, to create a more personable story that would move his listeners. While Daisey certainly had a right to feel for these workers, im surprised he didn’t look further into the details. As it turns out, Foxconn has implemented counselors, stress-relief rooms with punching bags, and even Buddhist monks for prayer service. Another point that is also brought up is the suicide rate in all of China, which is on average 22 people per 100,000 per year, is actually higher than the rate at the Foxconn factory, which is 17 people per 1,000,000. If equal to the national average, Foxconn would have had 220 suicides in 2010. I think that while Mr. Daisey draws attention to the size of Foxconn, he forgets that it is essentially a society.

Another fact I took a look at was Mike Daisey’s claim of armed guards at Foxconn. In the Retraction radio show, Rob Schmitz attacks this point, stating that no factories in China have armed guards. After doing some simple research, I found that China has one of the worlds strictest gun policies, and that private citizens are in fact not allowed to own firearms.

This kind of investigation into a story makes me wonder what we should believe. As Daisey stressed multiple times, he is not a journalist and regrets trying to take his theater piece into journalism. While he was easily ripped to shreds by veteran investigative journalists, it is concerning to think that true journalists may also embellish their stories, but know how to cover their trail.

All in all, I felt very uncomfortable listening to Mike Daisey try to defend himself. At many points there were long pauses, followed by very unclear answers. Every response seems like he’s trying to hedge himself, and nothing is really clearly answered.

Im not sure I agree with what Schmitz states at the end. I dont like the preachy way he hints at the fact that if you support Apple you are denying Chinese the rights we have as Americans. This statement seems so accusatory and incorrect to me. While it is true that we are able to live our lifestyle because of cheap labor from China, I dont understand why some of the blame isn’t being placed on the Chinese government itself. Much of China’s recent economic development is a direct result of industrialization and manufacturing. Shouldn’t we be blaming the Chinese government for denying it’s citizens rights?

In the end, there is no arguing that working conditions in China are less than ideal. Explaining this and separating fact from myth was the goal of bringing in Rob Schmitz. I think the question now is what should we do about it, if anything? Without these labor opportunities, would quality of life in China go down? Would suicide rates possibly go up as bread winners aren’t able to support their families? I think that the best step forward is a drastic economic change in China. Sooner or later, the working class will grow tired of working long hours for very little, and China will have to find a new way to sustain economic growth.


3 thoughts on “Response to Retraction

  1. When listening to Mike Daisey attempt to defend himself I felt the exact same way. It was so incredibly uncomfortable. He knew he had been caught and didn’t know what to say. The long periods of silence only continued to make his story seem less and less realistic, and him less trustworthy. I think that the interview with Mike Daisey was a powerful way for listeners to understand that this man did make up a lot of what he was saying, and lied to many many people. I was embarrassed for him listening to this Act of the Podcast.

  2. I too found it incredibly awkward listening to Mike Daisey attempt to defend his position. Instead of coming clean about everything that he undoubtedly embellished or made up in his “journalism” piece, he only tried to make himself look better and inevitably made himself appear worse. While Mike Daisey isn’t a journalist, I agree with you that the stories journalists give us might in fact be exaggerated and his performance undermined the credibility of not just him but our trust in journalists as well.

  3. I had no idea that Foxconn took those steps to improve the working conditions in their factories- you certainly aren’t hearing about such positive action being taken in the news. With respect to Mike Daisey’s responses, I completely agree about the overwhelming uncomfortable feel of the interview. To me, Daisey’s repeated statement that he wished he hadn’t come on TAL, rather than he wished he hadn’t made up the story in the first place, sounded to me as though he were saying he wished he hadn’t been caught. He showed little regret for fabricating the story itself.

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