After hearing Daisey’s original performance and then discovering his embellishments, my views on him became tainted. I did not take his word as true, and I was eager to hear his conversation with Ira Glass explaining the decisions he made. This podcast confirmed my original feelings.
In writing this blog, I have put some thought into the questions that Jordi posed for us. The first question I thought about revolved around Daisey’s decision to make his play available for people to perform or modify. Given that Daisey made this publicly available before his deceit was discovered, I think it shows that Mike Daisy is very proud of the work that he has done. In the follow-up interview with Ira Glass, Daisey states that this research and performance is probably his greatest of all time. That he wanted to share it with the broadest audience possible by making it public tells me that he wants everyone to be aware of the issues at Foxconn, which I do believe to be admirable.
The next question I delved into was Ira Glass’ anger and whether it was justified or not. I think he has a right to be angry because he was lied to and his integrity as the host and producer of This American Life was tested. Ira says, “I took your word.” And Daisey replies, “You can take my word in the context of theater.” He can’t just admit that he lied; he twists it and makes it seem as if telling a lie is fine for the theatrical aspect of his show. Daisy states, “I really regret putting this show on This American Life.” I don’t think Daisey regrets lying; I think Daisey regrets getting caught. Glass’ responsibility as host and producer is to vet all the details of Daisey’s story, and Glass later notes that once Daisey said that contacting his translator Cathy would be impossible, that that should have raised a red flag. I don’t think Glass overreacts. In fact, I anticipated his reaction being much stronger considering Daisey evaded many questions and struggled to simply say “Yeah, I lied.” Daisey crafted nearly each response theatrically. I would have reacted more strongly if I were sitting across from a man who lied to my face.
In sum, I’m happy that we were presented with this redacted podcast. It was shocking to hear Mike Daisey, a man who captivated me with his perfect oration skills, struggle to elicit a response to questions presented by Glass. At times his pauses were uncomfortable to listen to, because I felt bad for him and for the position he put himself in. In a sense, he exemplifies the idea of begrudging admiration, a concept where an audience has reasons to vilify an individual, yet still admires him/her for some reason. Although he lied and was not too truthful in his ‘theatrical journalism’, he still brought great awareness to a serious issue.