Wake up and smell the Daiseys

Chris McCormack, Staff Writer

In vaguely fabricated writings, television shows, radio stations, podcasts, newspaper inquiries and movies, should there be a limit to the amount of liberties taken? In order to examine the topic further, I offer the hitherto Mike Daisey scandal.

A once growing phenom writer whose writing technique brought him temporary fame, his stirring tale from a one-man drama called The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs aired one day on the radio broadcaster “This American Life.”

The chilling theatrical work was inspired by his obsession with the products created by Apple and his concerns over their creation. Portions of the play detail his visit to a contractor in China, in which he claims to have seen many antagonized workers, primarily of the age 12 to 13.

It worked, to say the least. It was extreme and provocative. Powerful and moving material. As such, it became one of “This American Life’s” most broadcasted works, and also spurred journalists and T.V. broadcasters alike to explore this creative and introspective writer. Even the New York Times became interested, writing their own article that seemingly corroborated the mischievous practices.

However, “This American Life” as well as the New York Times have been noted for catching Daisey on many questionable portions of the performance.

Both sources argue that he did, in fact, go to this corporate location in China, but the problems lie in what he saw in that factory. Apparently there were no maimed or injured workers he had spoken with.


One retelling of the story recounts the use of the noxious gas labelled “n-hexane.” That is also true. Some workers were indeed poisoned at a location near an Apple contractor in China. However, he never spoke with them.


“This American Life” retracted the entire segment – in favor of a much more scathing report, in which host Ira Glass confronts Daisey on the issue.
He doesn’t offer much in the line of defense, with his major argument being based on his necessity to embellish an apathetic environment in order to retain a truthful message to the show.


Until the public marked out Daisey – and many of his follow-ups – the problem was publicly ignored. In a weird way, Daisey’s performance inspired us to question the tiny devices we use almost everyday. Did Daisey disown his trust with journalists and the media? The answer is undeniable. But were the untruths essential?

We have a tendency to tune out the things that we don’t like. This is doubly true when money is on the line. I’m not suggesting that we ignored Apple’s reports, and we ignored New York Time’s publications. I’m rather imposing that sad songs have a way of sticking with us long after listening to them – and Daisey found a way to feed off of this figment of our mind. To create a catchy tale to stick with us, despite how the story was portrayed to the media.

Whether or not he actually created meaningful or pertinent work is irrelevant. All that matters is that Daisey succeeded in popularizing negative corporate business affairs.