In Mike Daisey's response to This American Life's retraction of his Apple story, he continues to lean on his point that Apple and Foxconn hurt Chinese workers, but his claim that critics "dance on his grave" so they can go back to ignoring labor abuses is simply not true. The bulk of the criticism directed at Daisey says that his misrepresentation of the facts hurts the real reporting that actually says what's going on in Chinese factories -- reporting that diligently uncovers and documents the poor conditions Daisey dramatized. Daisey wrote on Monday:
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.
But nobody really thinks that. Daisey's This American Life episode brought the story of Foxconn to many people's attention for the first time, but the reporting from The New York Times, CNN, NPR, and many others still stand, and it's Daisey's own falsehoods that threaten to undermine them. That's what his critics have been saying.
On Saturday, one of many, The Atlantic's James Fallows, wrote that Daisey's lying "gives ammo to those inside China who want to pooh-pooh complaints about safety, pollution, working conditions, and so on. Daisey is everything they warned against, come to life." Fallows joined The Times' David Carr, Reuters' Felix Salmon, and Salon's Mark Oppenheimer, who all pointed out in various ways that faking journalism makes it harder to get actual journalism taken seriously. The Foxconn story is important, scary, and dramatic all by itself, which makes Daisey's fabrications all the more pointless.