This American Life on Friday retracted its searing exposé of conditions at Foxconn factories that manufacture Apple gear. The statement reverses damage to one of the most-respected brands in the world.
Acclaimed Public Radio International program This American Life has retracted an entire episode about working conditions inside Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer that builds much of Apple’s most popular hardware, after learning that a major contributing source “partially fabricated” information about his visit to the factories.
In the episode, PRI aired a monologue from Mike Daisey, a self-proclaimed performer whose one-man show, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, detailed alarming labor practices which he claimed to witness during his time visiting Foxconn. Among the many facts Daisey fabricated, according to PRI, were the number of Foxconn factories he visited, the number of workers he spoke with, as well as a meeting with a number of workers who claimed to have been poisoned by chemicals used on iPhone assembly lines.
"Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast," Ira Glass, host of the show, said in a blog post Friday quoted by Wired. (I can't currently access the post. I expect it was overwhelmed by traffic).
Daisey issued a statement on his personal blog:
I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity.
Apple is going to come off smelling like a rose. Its brand has been restored. The only thing most people will remember about this story in six months is "Problems at the Apple factory? I remember that. That was faked."
That's a real shame, because, as Daisey notes, reports by the New York Times and human rights organizations corroborate that working conditions in China's factories are awful. The problem is not limited to Apple. Every electronics brand and consumer is complicit, you and me included.
Please post links and updates on this breaking story in the comment thread below. And let us know what you think. Will Apple's brand suffer any long-term damage? How about This American Life, also a well-respected brand -- will it be able to recover?
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— Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, The CMO Site