This American Life has retracted its episode on Apple and Foxconn, the manufacturing company that makes iPhones and iPads.
In a press release Friday, This American Life said that the January episode, which painted a negative picture of life for employees at a factory in Shenzhen, China, was not properly vetted and that narrator Mike Daisey "misled This American Life during the fact-checking process" when he didn't provide the contact information for his interpreter or her real name. The episode was based on Daisey's one-man show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.
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"At that point, we should've killed the story," Ira Glass, executive producer and host of This American Life
, said. "But other things Daisey told us about Apple's operations in China checked out, and we saw no reason to doubt him. We didn't think that he was lying to us and to audiences about the details of his story. That was a mistake."Friday's episode of This American Life
will include a segment with Marketplace
's Rob Schmitz, who confronts Daisey about fabricating details. In his report, Daisey said that he met underage workers at Foxconn and that a man with a mangled hand was injured making iPads — neither of which are true.Daisey admitted to Schmitz that he fabricated the details, adapting it from his theatrical show, and apologized for including it on This American Life
. "It was completely wrong for me to have it on your show," he said. He also sent his regrets to "the people who are listening, the audience of This American Life
, who know that it is a journalism enterprise, if they feel betrayed."
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Daisey released a further statement on his blog Friday
, saying that he stands by his work, which he called a theatrical piece that uses a "combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity.""What I do is not journalism," he wrote. "The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed This American Life
to air an excerpt from my monologue. This American Life
is essentially a journalistic — not a theatrical — enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations. But this is my only regret. I am proud that my work seems to have sparked a growing storm of attention and concern over the often appalling conditions under which many of the high-tech products we love so much are assembled in China."