The weekly radio program This American Life retracted a report on conditions of Chinese workers who construct Apple Inc products, saying the broadcast contained “errors” and “fabrications.”
“We can’t vouch for its truth, and this weekend’s episode of our show will detail the errors in the story,” Ira Glass, host and executive producer of This American Life, wrote on Friday in a statement.
The broadcast, which first aired on Jan. 6, focused on working conditions at Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團), which manufactures products for Apple and other electronics makers. It centered on a monologue by Mike Daisey that contained statements later disputed and shown to be falsified, Glass said.
“Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story,” Glass said in the statement. “That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.”
Daisey, whose one-man show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is currently running at the Public Theater in New York, responded to the retraction in a personal blog, saying: “I stand by my work.”
“This American Life is essentially a journalistic — not a theatrical — enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations,” Daisey wrote. “For this reason, I regret that I allowed This American Life to air an excerpt from my monologue. What I do is not journalism.”
He did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
This American Life spokeswoman Emily Condon said the company planned to post a transcript of a show that elaborates on the retraction.
“This American Life airs on National Public Radio (NPR) stations and is produced by Chicago Public Media and distributed by Public Radio International.
Daisey’s show centers on working conditions at plants that make products sold by Apple and other electronics manufacturers. Apple has begun subjecting factories of its suppliers to audits by an independent labor group following employee suicides and injuries and criticism from China Labor Watch, which cited instances of harmful conditions.
Foxconn said it welcomed NPR’s move.
“I am happy that the truth prevails, I am glad that Mike Daisey’s lies were exposed,” Foxconn spokesman Louis Woo (胡國輝) said by telephone yesterday. “But I don’t think that the reports about this have gone far enough to find out what exactly is the truth. I hope NPR will go further and see what the real work conditions are at Foxconn.”