“I’m Going to Lie to Lots of People”

After listening to the original podcast, I didn’t catch on to when Mike Daisey said to Cathy in their conversation, “Yes, Cathy, I”m going to lie to lots of people”. Daisey seemed to indicate that he would be lying to the factory owners about being a businessman. However, I believe that he was foreshadowing more than just lying to factory workers. He intended to lie to millions of people about Apple’s unethical manufacturing process. And this is exactly what he did. He went on This American Life to portray an eye-opening, fabricated recollection about his experiences in the Chinese factories and his interactions with Chinese factory workers.

It is true that it was wrong for Daisey to portray his story in a journalistic manner without facts to back up his assertions. It is also true that it was wrong for him about the credibility behind his story to lie to Ira Glass and This American Life(Despite This American Life’s blatant laziness for not fact checking Daisey’s information). But it was not wrong for Daisey generate value for the public by creating such an emotional story about a truly prevalent issue in China. Glass genuinely interrogates Daisey about the truth behind his facts, but more importantly, why he lied about this issue. Daisey states that he created a story to make people care. If he didn’t add the emotional details within the podcast, the general public wouldn’t care about what he was saying. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. People want something they can become passionate about. Daisey’s means to generating a positive end were flawed. He should have established that he was not attempting to provide a journalistic piece, but rather an exaggerated story about some of the horrors occurring in China. There is no doubt that Daisey cares a lot about what is going on with Apple and their manufacturing process. It could be seen in his discussion with Glass. It took a lot for Daisey to answer some of Glass’ questions. This might be because he was nervous to get reprimanded, but I believe it was because he was more emotional about the truth getting out and people discrediting everything that is taking place in China.

The horrors in China are real and should be taken seriously. I find it interesting when Schmidt talks about the scenario between an advocacy group called Students and Scholars Against Corporate Behavior and Apple. Sacom sent a report to Apple and Foxconn about one of their plants safety. In this plant,  workers were polishing the aluminum that makes up the case of the iPad which generates dust. Dust is a a huge safety hazard because it can easily explode. This report was sent weeks before a plant exploded in one of the factories in China. Several months later, another plant exploded in Shanghai. 4 workers were killed and 77 were very injured. Apple and Foxconn’s negligence resulted in their workers lives. They could have easily prevented the second plant explosion if they took it upon themselves to change their safety practices. Apple says they commit to certain safety standards, but it is clear that they often overlook life-threatening safety hazards. Since there are hundreds of thousands of workers, a handful of deaths seems like nothing. The reality is that these life-threatening and ethical problems continue to persist because Apple does not take their safety policies seriously enough.

To conclude, I want to discuss the “razor-thin profit margins” Apple grants their suppliers. Suppliers accept these profit margins because the Apple stamp of approval means they are doing something right. If it is not Apple’s responsibility to maintain the factory conditions, it is the manufacturing company’s responsibility to maintain conditions. If these manufacturing companies are not making enough money because of these profit margins, they can overlook safety standards. Thus, it can be considered just as much Apple’s fault as it is the manufacturer. Until the public realizes the situation is worse than it seems, no change will happen. Mike Daisey’s attempt to enrage the public failed. Who knows what the next step will be to demand more ethical behavior from corporations.


6 thoughts on ““I’m Going to Lie to Lots of People””

  1. I appreciate all the points that you make in your post. I agree with your recognition that in the retraction episode, Daisey is fighting not to discredit labor problems in China. I do like how at the end of the program, they do continue to recognize that it is a real problem. It does seem that Daisey’s attempts to excite the public did not succeed, which I think brings us back to some questions that many of us brought up after the first podcast. Do people care? Should they care? What should they do if they care?


  2. I also was moved by my second listening (albeit this time in excerpt form) of his conversation with Cathy that he is going to lie to lots of people. It made me think a lot about Mike: was this part of his sick twisted game of lying to the public in order to generate the response to an issue that he wanted? Did he do this to generate his own fame? I wonder why he felt the need to lie about a company that he professes his love for to prove a point that he could have proved anyway? I am glad that you highlighted that quote because it was something that drew a great emotional response from me but that I did not chose to write about.


  3. “It does seem that Daisey’s attempts to excite the public did not succeed”

    The irony is of course that they would have “not succeeded” even if there hadn’t been a retraction episode.

    The double irony is that because of the first episode and then the retraction, the intensity of the gaze on Apple’s behavior led to real and quantifiable changes. Some of these changes wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

    I think that’s part of life being complicated.


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