A Quite Painful Podcast


The best word I can use to describe the past 57 minutes and 35 seconds is painful.  This word suits this podcast for mainly two reasons.  Reason #1:  You would think that if Mike Daisey knew he was going to be interviewed about his falsifications and exaggerations that he would at the very least come up with a few explications, but no.  Ira Glass, the interviewer, asked questions, but Daisey responded with silence. Even when Daisey admitted that he didn’t see what he claimed he saw, he would justify it with something.  His answers were never simple.  He never just said, “I lied”.  It was quite uncomfortable to listen to the conversation between Glass and Daisey.  Reason #2:  I was pained by the extent to which Daisey both exaggerated and lied.  In fact, the most powerful and memorable moments in the story all seemed to be fabricated.

Among the plethora of fabrications Daisey alluded to in his story, what I found to be most out of line was the mention of the guns.  Daisey claimed that standing by each factory gate was a guard holding a gun.  This was one of the very first descriptions made about the factory and it really set the scene.  It sounded as if he was describing a prison, not at all a work place.  I find it quite interesting that Daisey even decided to add that little snippet about the guns because, as mentioned in the retraction, gun control is extremely strict in China.  The only people who are even allowed to carry guns are the armed forces, and by no means would it be acceptable for factory guards to possess them.

After further researching the topic, it is clear that the Chinese do not take gun possession and violence lightly.  As mentioned in a recent article in the Huffington Post ( Zhou Kehua, Chinese Serial Killer, Shot Dead After Massive Manhunt ), “Gun crime is rare in China as a result of tight controls over firearms”.  In this article, just the picture alone is enough to show that the Chinese mean business when it comes to gun possession and violence.  Displayed at the top of the article is a fugitive serial killer/armed robber shot dead.  Blood is streaming from his head and lying next to his hand is a handgun.  The fact that the Chinese allow this picture to circulate shows that they want this image to be seen and to be engrained in their minds.

I find it quite brainless of Daisey to have included the line about the presence of guns.  Yes, it helped set the scene of “If you don’t work hard, fast, long enough, I will shoot you”, but it was a complete lie.  Even if he just opened up the Huffington Post he could have read that firearms in China are a huge no-no.   All Daisey really did by adding that snippet about the guns was make himself look ill informed.  Better luck next time Mr. Daisey.

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5 thoughts on “A Quite Painful Podcast

  1. If you’re going to make up a story to perform for millions of listeners, why not do some research first? As you stated in your post, a quick Google describes how strict Chinese firearm policies are and to think that security guards would be armed is completely ridiculous. However, the fact that daisy left this obvious error in his performance makes me think that he never intended this piece to be considered a true factual account of his experiences.

  2. I would have to agree that the comment about the guards holding guns was just an outright lie. When talking to the translator she completely shot down this fact. It is against the law in China for guards to hold guns outside of these factories, and if they were doing so it would be straight up illegal. For Mike Daisey to say something that is COMPLETELY fabricated kills his credibility immediately. He embellished many stories and stretched the truth in multiple ways, but this was just a lie. Cathy, who he tried to keep hidden (as she could prove his lies) set this fact straight and said there were one hundred percent no way the guards were holding guns. Why include such a lie? It heightens all stakes. It made Foxconn security seem powerful, and usually powerful security is protecting something or hiding something. Daisey wanted the Foxconn factory to seem unreachable, when in fact Cathy said she has taken a plethora of Americans there over the years without an issue.

  3. Like you, I was extremely uncomfortable listening to the podcast. How had Mike Daisey not prepared for these questions? Why wouldn’t he outwardly admit to his numerous lies and elaborations? Additionally, I agree with your question of why didn’t Daisey look into gun control before he fabricated information about it. Foxconn’s factory in Shenzhen is extremely well known, so it doesn’t make sense that Daisey thought he could get away with that simple lie.

  4. Mike Daisey’s fabrication that the guards outside of Foxconn hold guns alarmed me, but not for the reason you may think. Looking back now, its scares me how easily we believe the things we hear, sometimes using no common sense at all. Although I had no previous knowledge about gun laws in China and would have no way of knowing it to be true, I dislike the fact that I just accepted his lie as a truth.

    • But Sarah, a guard is a role that embodies the power of force. In the US, we extend that to guns. Maybe Mike Daisey wanted to make sure the audience understood that the guards are the agents of Foxconn’s authority? If he wanted to express that they are powerful and that their presence says that no one can enter, doesn’t it work better for an American audience if they can picture them with guns?

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