NPR is retracting a story about Apple factories in China that ran on This American Life Jan. 6, reports Poynter. Per a press release, this week’s edition of Life will be dedicated to detailing how monologuist Mike Daisey “partially fabricated” his story – including dramatic incidents involving underage workers and the poisoning of factory workers.
Adapted from Daisey’s monologue show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (pictured), “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” turned out to be the most popular show in Life’s history and subsequently inspired stories by other outlets – including NBC News and The Daily Show – before its validity was questioned.
Marketplace reporter Rob Schmitz, who has reported on Apple’s supply chain in China, was the first to wonder about Daisey’s story, and Life host Ira Glass has now acknowledged he should not have run the story when Daisey could not put the program in touch with his China translator. Schmitz sought out the translator and learned that basic facts didn’t match up with Daisey’s piece.
Said Glass, “Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast. That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.”
Schmitz and Glass will interview Daisey on this week’s show, titled “Retraction,” which will air throughout the weekend on different affiliate stations. “What I do is not journalism,” the artist admitted on his blog. “I regret that I allowed This American Life to air an excerpt from my monologue. 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.”