Driving Mike Daisey


Mike Daisey’s persistence to uncover the truth about where our technology comes from was like watching Morgan Freeman try to befriend the stubborn Miss Daisy in the popular 1989 movie Driving Miss Daisy.  In all seriousness, I found the podcast to be eye-opening and thought-provoking. I had a difficult time trying to imagine a single factory with 400,000+ people inside. To put things in perspective, the population of Miami, Florida is a bit smaller than the number of workers contained within a single Foxconn factory.

I think the element of Mike Daisey’s monologue that made him so credible as a source was that he is a true Apple geek. Mike is borderline obsessed with Apple products. In anticipation of Mike’s trip into Shenzhen, as a listener I expected Mike to talk about how great Apple’s factory is and how well the workers are treated. However, I was stunned to hear about the n-Hexane story and the treatment of workers via the labor board.

The one quote from Daisey that stuck out to me the most was “Do you really think Apple doesn’t know? Or are they just doing what we’re all doing? Do they just see what they want to see?” This made sense to me. As one of the most detail-oriented people who have ever lived, there is no way Steve Jobs is blind to the working conditions of Foxconn employees. As we read about in Ethical Chic, Steve Jobs is a man of mystery. Just as he kept hidden the true nature of his health before his death in 2010, Jobs spent much of his final days concealing important information from the public.

Finally, I was interested to learn about Apple’s response to Daisey’s podcast. According to the NPR website, after it was revealed that much of Mike Daisey’s story was falsified, This American Life retracted the podcast from their website.  Hence why Professor Comas had to find a “bootlegged” copy I’m guessing. So I don’t think Apple had to do much to quash this story.

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6 thoughts on “Driving Mike Daisey”

  1. Even though the podcast was later retracted for being falsified, the essence of the story and much of the provided information is rooted in the truth. Do you think part of the problem is that Apple keeps their reports secret? Because the story was falsified, do you think the listeners let Apple off the hook for what was presented? Should Apple be held more accountable for their factories working conditions than they currently are?

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  2. I appreciated the comparison of Mike Daisy’s persistence to Morgan Freeman’s character’s persistence in the film Driving Miss Daisy. It was helpful to read your comparison of the population of workers at these factories and the population of Miami, Florida. It is sad that as soon as some pieces of Mike Daisey’s story were found to be falsified, This American Life had to pull the whole podcast. Even though some points to his story were fabricated, the problem of factory labor overseas is still a real issue that needs to be addressed. I feel like many people think that because Daisey made up a few things, we can now ignore the whole problem.

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  3. I believe part of the problem lies with Apple’s transparency about their products. Additionally, I believe that consumers are so caught up with the Apple brand that even if there continue to be reports posted about poor working conditions within their manufacturing plants, then consumers would still continue to purchase their brand even. I do believe that since parts of Mike Daisey’s podcast were falsified that consumers disregarded the remaining statements in his accusations.

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  4. Ashley – Apple’s transparency (or lack thereof) definitely has a lot to do with the problem. Moreover, I think China as a nation is playing right into Apple’s hand. China continues to crack down on media and information companies in order to protect their government and suppress their people. This makes it extremely difficult for foreign regulators to get involved.

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    1. Shaun, I really enjoyed reading your blog and found your points to be fascinating. I think the main reason people believed the podcast and look to vilify Apple is the persona Steve Jobs gave off. He was prickly, rude and downright mean. Employees disliked him, members of the media painted him in an unflattering light, and people generally wanted reasons to hate him. Foxconn’s manufacturing methods served to add fuel to the fire, and continued to paint Jobs and Apple in this negative light, so people wanted to believe it as true.

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