Chicago The public radio program “This American Life” on Friday retracted a story about what a monologist said he found while investigating Apple operations in China, citing “numerous fabrications.”
The show’s Friday broadcast detailed inconsistencies in the highly popular Jan. 6 episode that was an excerpt from writer Mike Daisey’s critically acclaimed one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” which currently is at the Public Theater in New York.
“We’re retracting the story because we can’t vouch for its truth,” Ira Glass, host of “This American Life,” said in a letter posted on the show’s website. Spokeswoman Emily Condon said Glass wouldn’t take calls for comment until after Friday’s episode airs.
In his program, Daisey describes meeting workers who put in very long hours and were forced to do crippling, repetitive motions at factories that make Apple products in China.
But “This American Life” says Rob Schmitz, a China correspondent for the public radio show “Marketplace,” located and interviewed Daisey’s Chinese interpreter, who disputed much of the artist’s claims.
“This American Life” said in its statement that staffers asked Daisey for his interpreter’s contact information while fact-checking the story and he said the cellphone number he had for her didn’t work anymore and he had no way to reach her.
“At that point, we should’ve killed the story,” Glass said in the statement. “But other things Daisey told us about Apple’s operations in China checked out, and we saw no reason to doubt him.”
Daisey posted on his website Friday that he stands by his work and that what he does is theater, not journalism.
“‘This American Life’ is essentially a journalistic — not a theatrical — enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations. But this is my only regret,” Daisey’s letter said.
Apple has been rebutting Daisey’s allegations for months, to little effect. An Apple spokeswoman declined comment Friday.
The original episode, “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,” has become the most popular podcast in the history of “This American Life” with nearly 890,000 downloads.