Forbes writer withdraws defense of Mike Daisey over Apple, Foxconn and ‘This American Life’

Tim Worstall writes for Forbes, “Alerted by a friend I am directed to this piece about the genesis of Daisey’s Steve Jobs show:

For months and months four major non-profit organizations across the US (Seattle Rep, Berkeley Rep, Woolly and the Public Theater) worked to put “The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs” on the stage, bringing the story we all felt was so enormously important – a story Mike told at least me time and time again was true. He insisted that “This is a work of non-fiction” be printed in playbills. This was to be a work of activist theatre. Staff at Woolly handed out sheets of paper to every audience member that left our theatres, per Mike’s insistence, that urged them to take action on this matter. (I and other staffers would get nasty emails from him the next day if even one audience member slipped by without collecting this call to action.) As the head of the marketing staff at Woolly, my staff and I worked hard to get butts in seats, and it worked. We sold out our houses. As in the other cities where Mike appeared, we got Mike in every major news outlet in DC, and the buzz, hype and importance of the show only grew along the way.

And then what happened? We learned from a radio producer, a year later, that Mike’s facts weren’t true. And what Mike did was apologize to him, to Ira. But he never apologized to us, and he never apologized to our audiences. In fact, what he did in his retraction interview was say, “I believe that when I perform it in a theatrical context in the theatre that when people hear the story in those terms that we have different languages for what the truth means.” My answer to that is that “This is a work of non-fiction” is pretty clear language.”

“If Daisey had claimed the theatrical exemption in the theatre for his inventions then I would be just fine with those inventions. But he didn’t, he’s all along been claiming that this is not simply theatre, this is nonfiction, something which we hold to different standards,” Worstall writes. “At which point… I withdraw my partial defence of his actions.”

Worstall writes, “One more thing to reiterate: I still insist that Daisey’s been wildly wrong all along about the implications of the conditions in those factories. Quite true that they’re not conditions that we would like to be subject to but that’s not the point at all. The comparison is to what else is available to those who do voluntarily work in them. As their alternatives include 12 hours a day staring at the southern end of a north moving water buffalo perhaps assembling iPads isn’t so bad?”

Read more in the full article here.

Read also “This Is A Work of Non-Fiction” – recommended – here.

Also of interest, via China Law Blog, read Dan Harris’ “Mike Daisey Is A Liar-Asshole” here.

MacDailyNews Take: The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. – H. L. Mencken

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “krquet” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Change.org petition calls for Change.org to retract petition against Apple; says based on Mike Daisey’s lies – March 21, 2012
Foxconn won’t take legal action against ‘This American Life’ after retraction of Mike Daisey lies – March 19, 2012
Foxconn glad Mike Daisey’s lies exposed; says media hasn’t gone far enough in reporting truth – March 19, 2012
Apple and the Daisey affair: Why did the company keep its silence, when it knew a year ago what we know now? – March 18, 2012
Apple firestorm leads Mike Daisey to change his ‘agony and ecstasy of Steve Jobs’ show – March 17, 2012
‘This American Life’ retracts story, says it can’t vouch for the truth of Mike Daisey’s monologue about Apple in China – March 16, 2012
Foxconn: The fire that wasn’t – March 15, 2012
Apple supplier Foxconn again lifts pay for China workers; 16-25 percent increase – February 17, 2012
FLA President: Foxconn factories ‘first-class; way, way above average’ – February 15, 2012
‘Slacktivism’ groups claim credit for Apple supplier audits over a month after Apple originally announced its plans – February 14, 2012
Thousands line up for iPhone assembly jobs at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou, China plant – January 30, 2012
Apple CEO Tim Cook calls New York Times supplier report ‘patently false and offensive’ – January 27, 2012
Apple audit led by COO Tim Cook prompted improvements at Foxconn – February 14, 2011
Media blows it: Foxconn employees face significantly lower suicide risk – May 28, 2010

13 Comments

    1. I would love to look at daiseys tax returns from 2010-2011 to see if the check came from RedMond or Korea. Both might indicate collusion or worse if he has been doing this to manipulate the stock market their would be deeper concerns. Follow the money SEC incompetents.

  1. Personally, I say sue the obese bastard into the Stone Age. But, of course, that’s not Apple’s way, and certainly not the PC thing to do. (Samson and David come to mind.) Oh well, sticks and stones . . . .

  2. Why has none of the culprits (Daisey, The theaters, TAL, MSNBC, or any othe other so called “News” purveyors) apologized to APPLE, and even more so to STEVE JOBS? They smeared the good name of Apple and smeared the very man who has done more for improving Chinese working conditions than any of these fools who pretend to be on the side of the workers. Where is the apology to Steve Jobs?

  3. MDN’s take/quote is remarkably similar to this one:

    “[I]t is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship… Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
    – Hermann Goering, interviewed in prison during the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials

    1. Could just as easily have said, ““[I]t is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship… Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
      – Dick Cheney/George Bush, interviewed during the Iraq War Crimes Trials

  4. the “facts” presented in the show have gone viral. As a stockholder, I’m continually bombarded with:

    “You invest in Apple. Do you know about their abusive working conditions?”

    This cockroach was willing to defile the life work of a dying man, and cost his company millions of dollars in damage control and good will when he KNEW that his presentation was not “A work of non-fiction”, which he insisted be printed on every flier and playbill. He deserves to go to jail.

    1. So true. That’s what makes it all sickening. Plus the fact that the major news outlets that fed him his publicity has been quiet after the revelation.

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