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China The Media Apple

Foxconn "Glad That Mike Daisey's Lies Were Exposed" 332

theodp writes "Foxconn Technology Group, Apple's largest supplier and the target of allegations of poor work conditions, welcomed a retraction of a This American Life radio program episode it said was based on lies. 'I am happy that the truth prevails, I am glad that Mike Daisey's lies were exposed,' Louis Woo, a spokesman for Taipei-based Foxconn said. 'People will have the impression that Foxconn is a bad company,' Woo added, 'so I hope they will come and find out for themselves'. Foxconn also said that it has 'no plans to take legal action.'"
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Foxconn "Glad That Mike Daisey's Lies Were Exposed"

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  • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @09:49AM (#39402345) Homepage

    > but just that he didn't directly speak to people he claimed to speak with


    "The China correspondent for the public radio show Marketplace tracked down the interpreter that Daisey hired when he visited Shenzhen China. The interpreter disputed much of what Daisey has been saying on stage and on our show."

    Basically he stated that all of the "bad stories" were simply made up.

  • Avid TAL Fan Here (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday March 19, 2012 @10:01AM (#39402463) Journal

    Wasn't the problem here not that what Daisey reported was false, but just that he didn't directly speak to people he claimed to speak with? Of course from a journalistic standpoint that is awful but it is now sweeping these problems under the rug.

    Foxconn can now act like there were no problems and ignore them just because the source used was a secondary source reported as a primary source.

    So, being an avid TAL fan, here are some things I remember from the two episodes that he lied about (remember Cathy Lee was his translator):

    • Guards with guns (in fact, Cathy has never seen one)
    • Factory workers meeting at Starbucks
    • Visited 10 factories (he only visited 3 according to Cathy)
    • Meeting N-Hexane victims
    • meeting underage workers (he actually guessed a bunch of young looking girls' ages)
    • meeting a hundred factory workers (play says 100, Daisey later says 25-30 now cathy says 2 or 3)
    • metal press victim who was fired for workin too slowly
    • a lot of the emotional interractions with Cathy
    • he presented himself as a "writer/actor" to Cathy but influenced our impression of Apple
    • didn't go on the exit ramp with Cathy
    • did go to dorm rooms for workers but lied about cameras in them
    • Cathy claims she never separated with Mike at the factory
    • Cathy says he never spoke to workers in English
    • he lied about Cathy's availability and phone number to occlude This American Life's factchecking

    The things that really worry me are he calls this "unpacking the complexities of how the stories get told" or "untying the story" in the second episode. This guy reminds me of the religious leaders from my youth who will tell you complex lies about their own personal experiences and they justify it by the fact that you are duped into believing past a mark that the evidence justifies. It's gross and disgusting that he washes his hands of it and calls his thing a performance while never straightening out TAL on the specifics.

    Like you said, some of the things happened but at what scale? Daisey makes it sound like you could fly there and pick a factory and you'd find it all. Good for TAL for devoting a full hour to what they had misrepresented. I'm still a huge TAL fan.

    And every time you think twitter and blogging and Slashdot have replaced modern journalism, behold the above danger.

  • Daisey's Response (Score:3, Informative)

    by sesshomaru ( 173381 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @10:07AM (#39402527) Journal

    Mike Daisey comments on "This American Life" controversy. []

    In other news, Political Cartoons should not also be taken as literal fact.

    Especially if they have talking ducks in them.

  • Re:Avid TAL Fan Here (Score:5, Informative)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki.cox@net> on Monday March 19, 2012 @10:08AM (#39402537)

    And every time you think twitter and blogging and Slashdot have replaced modern journalism, behold the above danger.

    This, a thousand times.

    Not just this story but it was thanks to real capital J Journalism that we got the facts behind KONY 2012 and Invisible Children. I think that Charlie Brooker's take on it is particularly great.

  • by aslagle ( 441969 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @10:15AM (#39402607)
    You do know that Foxconn's suicide rate is much lower than the China national average, right?
  • by aslagle ( 441969 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @10:38AM (#39402869)

    Admittedly this data is a bit old, but it does come from WHO (and not just some blog): []

    Suicide rate among people aged 25-34 is 15.1 per 100,000.

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @10:54AM (#39403059)

    Wasn't the problem here not that what Daisey reported was false, but just that he didn't directly speak to people he claimed to speak with? Of course from a journalistic standpoint that is awful but it is now sweeping these problems under the rug.

    No, that was not the problem. As an example, Apple's "Supplier Responsibility" report says that Apple found a few dozen cases in total where people were employed before they were sixteen, but this was because of errors and improper age checking. So if Apple said the truth then it would be very, very unlikely that a journalist at the entrance of a Foxconn factory would spot anyone who is not sixteen yet. It would be impossible to find anyone who is 12, 13, or 14. But that is exactly what he claimed, which would make Apple liars.

    Next, some people were injured through chemicals. You would think that if things are done right, workers who get injured go to hospital, get treated until they are fine, and come back fine and go back to work. And that's what Apple's report says. Daisey said he met many workers who were so ill that they couldn't even lift a glass. That is a completely different matter. If workers either didn't get treatment, or are so bad even after treatment, then the situation is hundred times worse than Apple claimed.

    So there are two lies already that made Apple and Foxconn look an awful lot worse than they should.

  • by Americano ( 920576 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:13AM (#39403287)

    And if his "creative" work involves "creating" facts that are reported on national news as facts, that's okay?

    And if Fox News decided to start calling Anne Coulter a "creative activist" - I mean, she writes books, that's creative! - you'd be okay with them reporting, "Anne Coulter says President Obama isn't even an American - he was born in Kenya, and he's a Muslim!" After all, she's creative, and an activist... TRUTH doesn't matter in the news, as long as it's for a "creative" cause, right?

    I forgot what a lot of pedants you all are.

    What you're calling pedantry is really just people calling you out for the ridiculous logical contortions you're twisting yourself into in order to justify Daisey's lies - presented as fact - "because they're activism for a good cause."

    They asked him for the contact info for the translator he used so they could corroborate his stories. He refused to provide that info. If you don't want your stories fact-checked, don't present them to the world as fact.

  • Re:Daisey's Response (Score:4, Informative)

    by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:14AM (#39403297) Journal

    Seriously ? This is "informative".

    No. This is ass-covering. This is "oh shit, someone actually looked at my data, that I tried to hide by claiming my source was now incommunicado. WTF do I say now ?"

    He presented stuff as fact. At no point did he say "This is mainly fiction", or "Some of this shit I just made up for dramatic effect", or *anything* in fact that would give the game away.

    Even *if* we give him a pass on the monologues, there's no excuse for lying when asked direct questions by interviewers (multiple times, and not just TAL). Things like "did you meet the man with the hexane-poisened hand who was denied medical care and fired, that you claim to have met", answer: "yes"; reality: no.

    He's a proven liar. He's been outed. Nothing he says has any credibility any more. Nothing. Which is a shame when it comes to raising the standards of living in China.


  • by oh_my_080980980 ( 773867 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:24AM (#39403391)
    Except the NY Times did their own investigation:

    "Last month the New York Times published an investigation into working practices at Apple supplier's plants in China that documented poor health and safety conditions and long working hours."

    Thanks for burying your head in the ground.
  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:42AM (#39403645)

    I think that it would be more accurate to say, that Daisey took bits and pieces of various real stories, all of them reported by actual journalists, put these details in rearranged form into a fictionalized monologue, and that became a TAL segment.

    That's not what happened. First, where are the "real stories"? Second, he added in very significant ways. So instead of a few cases where someone was hired who was too young, his story that all you have to do is wait at the entrance of the Foxconn factory and you will see lots and lots of 12, 13 and 14 year old children. And instead of people being poisoned, going to hospital, recovering and going back to work, he changed it to people being poisoned and having their health permanently destroyed to the point where they couldn't even lift up a glass.

  • by shoppa ( 464619 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:50AM (#39403759)
    I think Daisey using Foxconn's name in relation to the Hexane poisoning was probably the tipping point. A hexane poisoning incident did happen but it was a different company, Wintek. [] Daisey using Foxconn's name made his monologue sound too much like journalism which it never was. But it was good muckraking.
  • by Lorien_the_first_one ( 1178397 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @12:42PM (#39404373)

    A point that is not often addressed in public discourse is that Americans have been surrendering rights just to keep their jobs in the face of demands by corporate American. Corporate America is using slave labor in China as leverage to demand and acquire concessions from workers and to bust unions here. Once we call it what it is in the mainstream press, we might see greater awareness in the general population.

    "Oh, wait. When I buy a phone, be it Android, Apple or *gasp* Microsoft, I'm supporting slavery. That slavery is being used against me."

    This has coincidentally been accelerating for the last 30 years. 30 years? Around 30 years ago we saw the start of:

    * The rise of intellectual property
    * The lowest income tax rates in history
    * The acceleration of the outsourcing of labor to China, Vietnam and Thailand.
    * The acceleration of the continual decimation of the middle class.

    I'm sure there is more, but you get the picture. Slavery is a great way to cause a depression.

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @03:09PM (#39406241)

    I believe the words you're looking for is called, Indentured Servitude []. No, its not exactly slavery but it really is. The distinction is one of splitting hairs. The bottom line is that no one is forcing them into these conditions but its not much better than slavery.

    Except that what you claim is total nonsense. Foxconn pays wages that are quite a bit above average. The cost of living is very low, a place in the dormitories costs per month about one day's wages, meals are not much more. People come from their village, work hard for a year and save their money, and go back to their village as rich people (compared to what anyone else in the village has).

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman