The manufacturing facilities have been the subject of intense scrutiny for months. Today, one of its strongest critics, performance artist Mike Daisey's and his claims against Apple and the manufacturing plant were called into question. Now, one of the few reporters to have an inside look Foxconn reveals that he couldn't verify some of the claims Daisey was making in his monologue, which later became part of a now-retracted report on NPR's This American Life.
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ABC Nightline anchor Bill Weir traveled to China earlier this year and filed an extensive report, which ran on Nightline, about the manufacturing facilities and conditions there. The report made it clear that, despite past troubles (which included suicides and an explosion), things were not necessarily as bad as some people thought.
Daisey took issue with the report, particularly the fact that ABC is a Disney company and Apple is a major shareholder in Disney. Weir acknowledged this and told Mashable that there were "no preconditions" for his story. He insisted to Apple that it not be a “Potemkin village, no dog and pony show.”
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Now that NPR has stated that Daisey lied to them about his own reporting, we asked Weir for his comments:
"On more than one occasion during our days in and around Foxconn, my producer and I would turn to each other and say 'Are we missing something, or is Mike Daisey full of crap?' Because we tried really hard to find the kind of horror stories he described. We copied his method, standing outside the factory walls with an interpreter and stopping dozens of workers to ask, 'What would you change?' We visited markets in Shenzhen and a village outside the Foxconn plant in Chengdu and even sent our Chinese interpreter around without the camera and the tall American to see if anyone would open up.
"To a person, almost everyone was willing to complain about the pay or the cafeteria food or small showers in the dorms, but no one came close to repeating Daisey's claims. But that doesn't mean that working for Foxconn is all bluebirds and lemonade. A top executive admitted to me that it took a suicide cluster, two horrible explosions and a mountain of bad press to make them reconsider their working conditions. And they are just getting started on the kind of transparent reform labor rights activists have wanted for years."
What are your thoughts on Mike Daisey and his performance-art monologues, which combine reporting and dramatic license? Should he be held to the same standards as a news reporter like Bill Weir? Sound off in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
- Mike Daisey