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‘This American Life’ retracts episode about Apple’s factories in China

By Daniel S Levine,

This American Life, the popular weekly program, retracted the information reported in its episode focusing on the Chinese factories used by Apple to produce products like the iPhone and iPad. On Friday, host and executive producer Ira Glass admitted that the story had “significant fabrications.”

MSNBC reports that Glass admitted to the show’s error in a blog post. The story was an excerpt of Mike Daisey’s hit one-man show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, in which the writer talks about a visit to one of Apple’s factories run by Foxconn.

According to Glass, This American Life’s China correspondent sought the interpreter who worked for Daisey during his visit. Daisy claimed that he saw just how poor the working conditions were for the workers. “The interpreter disputed much of what Daisey has been saying on stage and on our show,” Glass wrote.

However, Glass took full responsibility for airing the episode. “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.”

MSNBC notes that the episode, which aired on Jan. 9, became the program’s most popular episode with 888,000 downloads. It also sparked a debate about Apple’s manufacturing practices, leading to investigations by The New York Times and The Business Insider, which discovered that workers were paid an average of $1.78 an hour.

The Associated Press reports that Daisey is defending his one-man show, writing on his blog “What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed This American Life to air an excerpt from my monologue.”

In his blog post, Glass wrote that the entire episode of this week’s This American Life will report on the errors in Daisey’s performance. The show has already posted the transcript and a link to the show.

 

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