This week, I listened to the Retraction episode of This American Life. I found the characters involved in the podcast to be more interesting than the topic they were discussing, and my blog post will focus on this aspect of the podcast.
Mike and Ira are two very interesting characters, and they are now forever connected. This post will analyze my emotional reaction to Mike’s apology, as well as my thoughts on Ira’s response to Mike’s apology.
Mike has a unique, deliberate speaking style full of uncomfortable, thought provoking pauses that truly give you the sense that he choses every word he says carefully. This same style that makes him such an interesting, attention capturing, thought provoking monologuist makes him very unlikable when he comes back on the show during the retraction episode. To say that it is his speaking style that made him unlikable in his return to the show sells himself short: it is his refusal to admit that he duped Ira, and duped the public that makes him the most unlikable. His speaking style simply exacerbates the frustration a listener feels listening to Mike defend his journey to China. I am honestly surprised he would return to the show if his message was going to summarize to the following in my opinion: he admits that he deceived listeners to make them care, but quickly, proudly, and loudly points to the fact listeners now care! They care! and that matters more to him than the fact that he deceived them, which I did not like.
A quick point on Ira’s reaction to Mike’s retraction. He did not take very kindly to Mike’s retraction, and I don’t blame him because I didn’t either. However, isn’t this the best thing that ever happened to Ira’s show? Mike’s original podcast was the most downloaded podcast ever of This American Life. And I firmly believe that the followup podcast amounts to “there’s no such thing as bad news” as a boon to Ira’s show. I wonder if his on air anger at Mike is supplemented by an off-air appreciation– one that he would never admit to Mike– that Daisey’s monologue on his show and the circus that followed was the best thing that could have happened to Ira: it did not damage his journalistic integrity, and created a huge boon of interest in him and his show.
As I watched the Bucknell Forum production of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, I considered how the interruptions evaluated elements of Mike Daisey’s original monologue. I enjoyed the explanations of Chinese cultures that various professors brought to the forefront and how these challenged Daisey’s claims. I felt that these rebuttals of sorts made the audience develop their own stance on particular issues, especially regarding the economic implications on factories in China. Continue reading Honesty: The Difference Between Journalism and Art
After listening to the TAL podcast that retracted “Mr. Daisey and Apple” the one line that stuck with me was when Mike Daisey said, “I wanted to make a monologue that would make people care.” Well, Mike Daisey certainly made people care. He made people care about the ethicality and truthfulness behind a story. So, how did he do this? Continue reading How do you make people care?
After listening to the retraction of Mike Daisey’s story on This American Life about Apple and Foxconn, I didn’t really know what to think. It made me question every little part of his story, and assume nothing he said was credible, but at the same time, I still have a lingering doubt in my mind that some of what he said could have been true. In this regard, I think Mike Daisey accomplished what he set out to do. His goal in performing his monologue was to cause people to question what Apple and other American companies manufacturing goods in China are really doing, and whether or not their actions were ethical. Though most of what he said was eventually discovered to be false, some people may not have heard the retraction, and those who did will still be thinking about workers in China making iPhones, and whether or not what they are doing is truly legal. Mike Daisey lost all journalistic credibility when the retraction came out, but I don’t think he really cared about his journalistic integrity or he never would have allowed his work to air in such a public and official capacity. I also don’t agree with his argument that his “play” was completely acceptable for theatrical purposes because he presented it as the truth. Had the retraction never been released, I would have continued believing Apple mistreats Chinese workers, and would have had a negative view. I think he misrepresents what he does in theaters because he doesn’t claim to be making artistic interpretations of a situation, he presents something that never happened as the truth. The two NPR fact checkers say they saw him perform his works and viewed it as an actual representation of what happened on his trip to China, not an exaggeration designed to prove a point. I believe what Mike Daisey did was wrong, but he achieved his goal of bringing attention to Apple and Chinese labor conditions. Continue reading Search for Truth
“Retraction” is an attempt by This American Life to restore their credibility. It succeeds in this respect to an extent, but it does not completely negate their failure to do sufficient fact checking for the original story. Unfortunately for Mike Daisey, all of the credibility This American Life and Ira Glass restore for themselves is at his expense. They paint Mike Daisey as a liar by asking leading questions and eventually outright asking if he lied. Continue reading Knights and Knaves
I knew the This American Life retraction would expose some over-exaggerations Mike Daisy had made, but I was not prepared for the extent to which his story was hyperbolized. He conducted far fewer interviews than he claimed, Foxconn was much more approachable and accommodating to visitors, all meetings were set up in advance, underage workers were not commonplace, and n-hexane was not a concern. In addition, Mike did not experience dorm room conditions and likely did not talk to a man with a mangled hand.
I felt much less sympathy, and almost uncaring, towards the Foxconn workers, writing off their true working conditions as not very dire, especially compared to how their conditions were originally portrayed. So, that being said, I agree with Mike Daisy when he argues his story would have had much less impact if it was not told entirely from the first person and embellished the way it was. Continue reading Making People Care
Following the release of the excerpt of Mike Daisey’s performance on This American Life in 2012, both TAL and Mike Daisey received tremendous backlash from fans around the country. For this blog post, I want voice my opinion on where I think the blame should be placed, and if the reactions by either Daisey or Ira Glass were warranted in the Retraction piece. Continue reading So Whose Fault is it?