UPDATE (20 March): Culturebot‘s Jeremy Barker joins several other journalists to discuss Daiseygate on yesterday’s edition (19 March) of the BBC World Service’s World Have Your Say. The podcast will be available online for the next seven days.
Mike Daisey responds to his critics in general at his Web site today:
In the last forty-eight hours I have been equated with Stephen Glass, James Frey, and Greg Mortenson. Given the tenor of the condemnation, you would think I had concocted an elaborate, fanciful universe filled with furnaces in which babies are burned to make iPhone components, or that I never went to China, never stood outside the gates of Foxconn, never pretended to be a businessman to get inside of factories, never spoke to any workers.
Especially galling is how many are gleefully eager to dance on my grave expressly so they can return to ignoring everything about the circumstances under which their devices are made. Given the tone, you would think I had fabulated an elaborate hoax, filled with astonishing horrors that no one had ever seen before. …
If you think this story is bigger than that story, something is wrong with your priorities.
If people want to use me as an excuse to return to denialism about the state of our manufacturing, about the shape of our world, they are doing that to themselves.
I can’t say precisely whom Daisey has in mind, but in all the writing about this controversy I’ve seen no one who is guilty of what he’s describing here. Indeed, it’s precisely because of the importance of this story that his behavior has been particularly culpable. It’s what Daisey has done to the reputation of a theatrical form which seeks to politically engage its audience to action, and his intentionally misleading those who seek to verify specific facts in his work, that is in question. In unnecessarily defaming and vilifying his critics, who by and large have been far more fair to him than he is to them in this apologia (see, for just the latest example, Jason Zinoman’s essay for Slate, published here today), he does the public discourse about these issues no good. How theatre failed America, indeed.
Is this more about Mike Daisey or about working conditions in China? Perhaps we’ll find out in his next monologue:
I will not go silent — I will be making a full accounting of this work, shining a light through this monologue and telling the story of its origins, construction, and details.
But as Daisey would say, you certainly don’t need to listen to me; the full text is here.
In the meantime, Art Hennessey has been doing a little investigative work about This American Life itself, and presents us with this piece of media history. What a tangled web (and Web) we weave …