Pushing Up “Daisey”s: The Death of Credibility


Listening to Mike Daisey try to defend himself in “Retraction” was extremely painful. About a week ago when I first listened to Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs I was amazed and stunned to listen to Daisey’s journey to Foxconn in China as he uncovered the “truth” about Apple product manufacturing. Daisey made his trip out to be a great adventure, and while it sounded “too good to be true” I credited that to Daisey’s amazing storytelling ability. From the start of his speech I was enthralled and locked-in, as he smoothly wove a narrative about his travels and discoveries. Tonight, hearing Daisey try to defend himself, I cringed as he stumbled through the interview and took painstakingly long pauses while trying to figure out what to say. My first impression of Daisey was completely destroyed: he went from such a mesmerizing wordsmith to someone who seemed like he could only speak well in prepared statements and was making up the rest as he went. The separation of journalism and art is something that I felt very strongly about after listening to “Retraction”. In my opinion, there is a huge difference between journalism and art. The purpose of art is to create something that invokes an emotional response in people. The purpose of journalism is to collect and present facts to a reader/viewer in order for them to become knowledgable about news, events, and topics. According to these definitions, Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstacy of Steve Jobs is without a doubt a work of art and not journalism. Daisey had no facts and embellished evidence, and even admitted that his goal was to “make people care” about the conditions of Apple manufacturing plants (the objective of art). Duhigg represents the journalism aspect of Apple manufacturing, where he collects hard evidence and statistics about working conditions in the Foxconn facility. While he presents this information, he says that it’s for “you to judge” as to whether or not you should feel bad for the Foxconn workers. Duhigg is not trying to create an emotional response, he is trying to provide accurate information about the workers’ conditions. Finally, I thought that Daisey’s goal of trying to “make people care” was extremely interesting as I completely understood what he was talking about. For me personally, I was completely enveloped in Daisey’s presentation when I thought it was completely truthful and factual. The fact that these conditions existed and I was involved in causing them made me want to change things. However, if I had have known going in that Daisey’s speech was a fictional amalgamation of things that “he had heard” about the factories combined with possibly exaggerated aspects of his trip, I would have had much less of an emotional reaction to the speech. I would have had no context as to what was real and what was fake, and as a result I would not have been as concerned since I would be doubting what parts of the speech were true and false. Now, in my current situation of having once believed the whole story but now doubting a majority of it, I am in a strange position where I am motivated to make changes to stop the horrible manufacturing conditions caused by Apple, but unhappy that this response was motivated by Daisey’s falsifications.

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2 responses to “Pushing Up “Daisey”s: The Death of Credibility

  1. I agree that listening to both podcasts has made me feel very conflicted. I like your interpretation about art versus journalism. I think that Mike Daisey made a poor decision to share his monologue which was meant to be art in an environment where journalism was expected. Overall, I think it left a lot of conflicted and unhappy listeners like us wanting more information and putting Daisey in an awkward position. I also agree that it was very uncomfortable to listen to Daisey try to justify his actions. I did not like the way he handled the interview, but wondered if it could have been handled in any other way?

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  2. I similarly honed on to Daisey’s long pauses during the retraction interview. However, my interpretation of it was a little different than just awkwardness. The tightness in his voice and pauses reflect a man who is deeply conflicted. On one hand he has the noble goal of trying to alert the general public to the poor working conditions in China. On the other I can almost hear him internally debate how far down the “rabbit hole” of lies he’s willing to dig to tell the truth about his trip. I think he feels simultaneously frustrated that this is overshadowing his message and ashamed of the fact he was not forthright about the facts of his trip.

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