Monologuist Mike Daisey is now offering an "accounting" after the revelation that most of the critical details of his "Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" monologue were fabricated for dramatic effect:
It made me grateful for the great privilege it has been to be able to call myself a storyteller and to have audiences come and listen to what I have to say, to extend their trust to me. I am sorry I was careless with that trust. For this, I would like to apologize to my audiences.
And I would like to apologize to my colleagues in the theater, especially those who work in non-fiction and documentary fields. What you do is essential to our civic discourse. If I have made your path more difficult, or the truth of your work harder for audiences to discern, I am sorry.
I would also like to apologize to the journalists I gave interviews to in which I exaggerated my own experiences. In my drive to tell this story and have it be heard, I lost my grounding. Things came out of my mouth that just weren’t true, and over time, I couldn’t even hear the difference myself.
To human rights advocates and those who have been doing the hard work of bringing attention to these kinds of labor issues for years, if my failures have made your jobs harder, I apologize. If I had done my job properly, with the skills I have honed for years, I could have avoided this. Instead, I blinded myself, and lost sight of the people I wanted most to help.
So, just to be clear, Mike Daisey created and performed a wildly popular, widely-reported-on monologue that specifically targeted Apple -- his performance excluded any significant reference to any other company -- and which included significant lies that cast doubts about the integrity of Apple's senior executives, and when all of this is exposed he apologizes to:
- The audiences he lied to.
- His colleagues, many of whom he lied to.
- Journalists he lied to, who then popularized his lies.
- Human rights advocates, who may feel the fallout of his lies.
Shouldn't there be a number five there?
John Gruber, not long after the controversy erupted, had this to say:
The most egregious of Daisey’s lies is the following bit from “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”. You can read it on page 31 of the downloadable transcript. You can watch Daisey perform this segment by watching this report from CBS News, broadcast back in January, starting around the 2:00 mark. I recommend watching, because Daisey is indeed a talented performer.
But I do know that in my first two hours of my first day at that gate, I met workers who were fourteen years old, I met workers who were thirteen years old, I met workers who were twelve.
Do you really think Apple doesn’t know?
In a company obsessed with the details, with the aluminum being milled just so, with the glass being fitted perfectly into the case, do you really think it’s credible that they don’t know?
This is not about the “larger truth” that there have been child labor violations at Apple suppliers. This is about a big lie: that Apple as an institution, and its executives personally, have a callous disregard for the welfare of children and are either lying to us or looking the other way.
As Gruber suggests, the power behind Daisey's monologue was the idea that Apple knew about but simply didn't care that 12, 13, and 14-year-olds were routinely hired by Foxconn to work long, grueling hours making iPads and iPhones. That tireless and repetitive work was destroying the hands of workers due to carpal tunnel on a "scale we couldn't imagine."
Except, none of this turned out to be true.
So, Daisey's first failure is that he doesn't apologize to the entity that his lies have most directly impacted.
His second failure?
With that in mind, it's almost hard to believe that one of the primary accusations lodged against Apple -- by Daisey and others who supported his cause -- is that they "didn't care" because "greed" clouded their judgment.
I'd certainly love to know how much money Mike Daisey has made off of his lies, to date, and how much he stands to make in the future.
Perhaps the answer to that question would provide the incentive for Mike Daisey to press on, despite the exposed lies and the subsequent apologies?
Do you really think Daisey has any reason, other than money, to do so? Do you really think he doesn't know what he's doing?