This American Life Retracts Story About Apple's Manufacturing Process

— 2 minute read

The episode of This American Life that sparked a lot of the investigation and hype around Apple's supposed poor labour practices in China has been pulled.

The China correspondent for the public radio show Marketplace tracked down the interpreter that Daisey hired when he visited Shenzhen China. The interpreter disputed much of what Daisey has been saying on stage and on our show. On this week's episode of This American Life, we will devote the entire hour to detailing the errors in "Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory."

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.

The lies were uncovered by another public program, Marketplace, when their reporter retraced Mike Daisey's steps with Daisey's translator:

So I asked her: “Did you meet people who fit this description?”

“No,” she said.

“So there was nobody who said they were poisoned by hexane?” I continued.

Lee’s answer was the same: “No. Nobody mentioned the Hexane.”

I pressed Cathy to confirm other key details that Daisey reported. Did the guards have guns when you came here with Mike Daisey? With each question I got the same answer from Lee. “No,” or “This is not true.”

The attention that was focused on working conditions in Chinese factories was certainly a good thing. It's too bad that it came out of a fabricated story. To my knowledge Apple is still the only major company to put forth a Supplier Responsibility statement on what they are holding themselves and their suppliers accountable to.