On Jealousy, Transparency, and Lies: John Moe on Mike Daisey and the This American Life Retraction
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Yesterday Ira Glass sent an email revealing that This American Life's report on Apple's manufacturing supplier in China "contained significant fabrications." Mike Daisey’s story and TAL’s decisions to go to air and later retract the show have sparked a lot of discussion in journalism and public radio circles.
There’s a lot of praising, challenging, and questioning going on. Frankly, much of it feels like punditry and harmless posturing. But, this Saturday afternoon a stream of tweets by Marketplace's John Moe put a human face on this story and some of the underlying ethical issues at stake.
(I’ve kept the format in order to preserve, hopefully, the rhythm of Moe’s thoughts.)
I knew Daisey for many years, although its been several years since I’ve talked to him. But I saw his first audition when he came to Seattle
5:22 PM - 17 Mar 12
It was the best audition I’d ever seen. A monologue about Wrath of Khan. Astounding. Completely improvised, I later learned.
5:23 PM - 17 Mar 12
I worked at a temp agency and gave him temp jobs. Mike later worked at Amazon when I did. Then he quit and made a 1-man show about Amazon.
5:25 PM - 17 Mar 12
It bugged me that Amazon paid him salary and benefits and then he turned around and ripped them. I was also jealous of his talent & success.
5:26 PM - 17 Mar 12
Then he got a book deal! So I was jealous of his talent and success in writing and theater.
5:29 PM - 17 Mar 12
In his book, he said things about my department at Amazon that weren’t true or were exaggerated and/or twisted. Which angered me. So…
5:30 PM - 17 Mar 12
Over the years I haven’t known how to view his success. Astoundingly talented guy, I questioned his ethics, but I was jealous/petty too.
5:32 PM - 17 Mar 12
But this China thing hits me hard. As a tech reporter, I know the Foxconn issue is huge and complex. As a journalist, ethics are critical.
5:33 PM - 17 Mar 12
The Foxconn suicides first taught me the word Foxconn. It’s a big issue for me (my brother died of suicide) and I wanted more attn on it.
5:36 PM - 17 Mar 12
Then when Daisey became a leading spokesperson for Foxconn issues, I was all jumbled up. How did he get these scoops? I was jealous again.
5:37 PM - 17 Mar 12
Now all this. I don’t hate Mike, I wish him well, and I just hope more truth and light and transparency somehow emerge from this mess.
5:39 PM - 17 Mar 12
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