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Mr. Daisey's Agony

As the Mike Daisey/This American Life saga continues to unravel, we look back on our own review of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.  

Brooklyn-based actor and author Mike Daisey has been taking some heat in the news for his monologue The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. After This American Life played an hour-long excerpt of his show in January, sources have been coming out of the woodwork to discredit his claims, including factory workers and his interpreter on his trip to the FoxConn factory in China. About a year ago, we sent reporter Dan Fost and a handful of Apple employees to see Daisey’s show at the Berkeley Rep so Fost could gauge their reactions. Not surprisingly–given Apple’s infamous secrecy–they mostly kept mum, only breaking to defend their company’s overseas activities.

The poor working conditions in FoxConn’s factories have since been further investigated and exposed by national media outlets. Still, Daisey did take some pretty heavy creative liberties with his depictions, and continues to defend himself: “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.” This American Life executive producer Ira Glass, however, disagrees: “Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brain Reed during the fact checking we did on the story before it broadcast. That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.” This week’s episode of the national radio show will analyze Daisey’s deceits.