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.
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Ira also talks with Mike Daisey about why he misled This American Life during the fact-checking process. And we end the show separating fact from fiction, when it comes to Apple's manufacturing practices in China.
A full transcript of this episode is available here.
Host Ira Glass tells listeners we can no longer stand behind the reporting in the recently aired episode "Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory." He explains how Marketplace reporter Rob Schmitz tracked down Daisey's interpreter in China — a woman named Cathy Lee — who disputes much of Daisey's story. And Ira talks about how Mike Daisey lied to TAL during the fact-checking process, telling Ira and our producers that Cathy was not her real name and that she was unreachable. Ira also stresses that, without Cathy's corroboration of the story, This American Life never should have run the story in the first place. (5 minutes).
Rob Schmitz, a Shanghai-based reporter for Marketplace, tracks down and interviews Cathy Lee, Mike Daisey's interpreter on his trip to Shenzhen, China, and the Foxconn factory. In her interview with Rob, Cathy disputes much of what Daisey has been telling theater audiences since 2010 and much of what he said on the radio. Rob also talks to Mike Daisey about Cathy's version of the trip and tries to square the two accounts. (21 minutes).
The News That's Fit to Print
To get a sense of what really is true of Apple's working conditions in China, Ira talks to New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg. Duhigg, along with Times reporter David Barboza, wrote the newspaper's front-page investigative series in early 2012 about this subject. And while Duhigg won't tell you how to feel about Apple and its supplier factories' practices, he does lay out the options for how you could feel, in a very clear and logical way. Duhigg is also the author of The Power of Habit. (12 minutes).
Here's a longer version of Ira's interview with Charles Duhigg, where he lays out more details about what we know about Apple's manufacturing operations in China.
Apple's Supplier Responsibility page
Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) reports: