‘This American Life’ Retracts Story About Abuse Found with Apple’s Suppliers in China After it Turns Out the Person Who Told Them About the Abuse Fabricated Much of What He Said

Mar 17, 2012  •  Post A Comment

In a blaring headline on its website that reads "RETRACTION," publlic radio’s "This American Life’s" new episode this weekend devotes its entire show to retracting an earlier story about abuse found at Apple suppliers in China.

Here’s what the show has posted on its website: "We’ve discovered that one of our most popular episodes contained numerous fabrications. This week, we detail the errors in Mike Daisey’s story about visiting Foxconn, which makes iPads and other products for Apple in China. ‘Marketplace’s’ China correspondent Rob Schmitz discovered the fabrications." 

If you click on the link above you can listen to the new episode or read a transcript of it.

In its reporting of this story, The New York Times writes that "This American Life" host "Ira Glass said in a statement that Mr. Daisey ‘lied’ to him and to Brian Reed, a producer of the program, about details related to injured workers Mr. Daisey had described meeting at Foxconn, a factory in China where Apple products are made."

The "This American Life" show was a stripped down version of Daisey’s popular off-Broadway show ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,’ a lot of which Daisey said was based on a 6-day trip he took to China.

It turns out that much of what Daisey says he witnessed he never saw. 

The Times story says, "In a report for ‘Marketplace’ on Friday, Mr. Schmitz acknowledged that other people actually had witnessed harsh conditions at the factories that supplied Apple. ‘What makes this a little complicated,’ he said, ‘is that the things Daisey lied about are things that have actually happened in China: Workers making Apple products have been poisoned by hexane. Apple’s own audits show the company has caught underage workers at a handful of its suppliers. These things are rare, but together, they form an easy-to-understand narrative about Apple.’ "

The Times story also notes, "Mr. Daisey made his case against Apple in other forums, including on television and, last October, in an Op-Ed article for The New York Times. On Friday, the newspaper added an editor’s note to the article online and removed a paragraph that described the worker with the injured hand."

The Times added that Apple had no comment about the retraction.

Updated 6:40 a.m. PT onf 3/19/12 to correct typos

One Comment

  1. Let’s play “how many screwups are there in this story” shall we?
    1) The attribution line after the title cites “‘It’s American Life’ website”
    2) Apparently whatever the above program is, it’s broadcast on pubic radio. Is that run by Playboy?
    3) That pesky shift key missed the t but got the i in “the New York TImes”.
    Did I miss any? Is it any wonder I don’t bother reading TV Week more than once a month or so?

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