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Daisey expands apology, promises reform on 'truthiness'

updated 06:55 pm EDT, Mon March 26, 2012

Says he lost grounding, will be more 'humble'

Finally admitting more candidly that he had "violated" the trust of his audiences and had "exaggerated my own experiences" in interviews with journalists, monologist Mike Daisey laid out a formal apology on his blog in a post titled "Some Thoughts After the Storm." The post recognizes that audiences felt misled by the blurring of truth and "truthiness," though he does not address whether the show will go on.

Daisey, who has done a number of successful monologue-based shows, began touring a production called The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs more than a year and a half ago. The focus of the show was Daisey's observations of the imbalance between an America that paid well for its electronics gadgets (focused primarily on Apple's success in that field), and the difficult and sometimes abusive working conditions of the low-paid Chinese workers who actually made the products.

Much of Daisey's show was based on observations he made during a trip to China in 2010. In some cases, however, Daisey has since admitted that some specific tales were fabricated.

Incidents mentioned in the show sparked national backlash against Apple by progressive and labor-rights groups, and pressure from the scrutiny caused the company to make its own auditing and improvement process more transparent, but although some of Daisey's accusations were borne out in other investigations, several of the most emotional or shocking parts of his monologue now appear to have been made up or at least greatly exaggerated.

It was when Daisey repeated some of the incidents as true on the PRI radio show This American Life that the story began to unravel. An NPR reporter tracked down Daisey's Chinese translator, who disputed a number of specific meetings and what was said.

Confronted by TAL, Daisey recanted some of the stories, but said the overall point was to get the audience emotionally engaged in what he saw as an corporate disgrace. TAL was forced to retract the entire Daisey episode, saying he "misled" the program's fact-checking team during the initial episode.

Ironically, Daisey begins his latest apology by reprinting a quote from an interview in Seattle in which he specifically delineates where the boundaries are in relating true events in theater. "You have so many tools on stage as a storyteller. Like, any time you want something to happen, you don't have to pretend it happened and lie, you can use a flight of fancy, you can say, 'I imagine what this must look like,'" he said at the time.

"You can say anything and you can go in whatever direction you need to go, but be clear with the audience, but be clear with the audience that at one moment you're reporting the truth as literally it happened, and another case you're using hyperbole, and you just have to be really clear about when you're using each tool. " He used the quote as a way to acknowledge that he had failed to do so in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, saying "it ... makes clear where I fell short " and that "when I said onstage that I had personally experienced things I in fact did not, I failed to honor the contract I'd established with my audiences over many years and many shows. In doing so, I not only violated their trust, I also made worse art."

"This is not the place for me to try and explain my good intentions," Daisey writes, refuting his own earlier defense. "We all know where the road paved with good intentions leads. In fact, I think it might lead to where I'm sitting right now."

He goes on to specifically apologize to audiences for being "careless with that trust," referring to the unspoken contract between performers and their listeners that what they hear is essentially true. Daisey also apologizes to fellow theatre colleagues, recognizing that his errors may have made others' jobs, particularly in non-fiction and documentary storytelling, more difficult.

He then also expresses his regret to journalists for "exaggerating my own experiences," saying his "lost his grounding" in the endless retelling of talking points to various media and that "over time, I couldn't even hear the differences myself." Daisey also apologizes to human rights and worker advocates, saying that "if I had done my job properly, with the skills I have honed for years, I could have avoided" the controversy that has now cast doubt on the whole story of worker struggles in China. "Instead, I blinded myself, and lost sight of the people I wanted to help the most."

Prior to this latest mea culpa, Daisey had already acknowledged that the play would be re-written to be more specific and would include a new prologue as a disclaimer. In the new post, he left unsaid whether the show would be performed again -- it is booked for at least one more run in Washington DC this summer -- or if he would specifically drop those elements of the stories that have been shown to be untrue.

by MacNN Staff



  1. thinkman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    flight of fancy

    It's theater, so anything goes, right, fatboy?! You're a liar and a plagiarist (truthiness - Steven Cobert's word). Do you have an original thought in that balloon that passes for a head? He should be flipping burgers at McDs, and cracking up the rest of the wait staff with his amazing sense of humor - I really think this is the right venue for him.

  1. chas_m



    Not defending but

    Are you familiar with Daisey's work prior to this? I think he's a serious performer, I just think he shoved his head up his own a** on this one. I also think we've seen such behaviour before from other performers in other areas of art. Not excusing anything, just saying your comments seem to ALSO be glossing over the larger story in an effort to make a point ...

  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Truthiness? Really?

    "Truthiness" is a tongue-in-cheek term invented to make fun of people who decide that just because they feel it is true... it must be true. In other words A LIE. And for Daisey to toss it around as an excuse merely shows his lack of self-awareness at a very sad level. I don't care if he was talking about Steve Jobs or Billy the Kid. He made stuff up. He lied. And now he's using thirteen layers of horse manure to sound lofty about it. It still stinks.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    that's great

    now can we all go back to not caring who Mike Daisey is

  1. chefpastry

    Joined: Dec 1969


    My monolog

    1. Way too little, far too late.
    2. This guy is done.
    3. All those "news" agencies who helped blow up this BS should own up an apologize as well.
    4. All the self-righteous activists knuckleheads should learn from this.

  1. VinitaBoy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    And STILL . . .

    This moronic bulk of a man has not yet apologized to Apple, Inc. directly! To his "audience," yes. To his theater owners and agents, yes. But to the company and people he falsely vilified? h***, no. Tim Cook and his legal staff should sue the living c*** out of this blob of humanity. Let him be a lesson to other liars and defamers.

  1. Jubeikiwagami

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not just Apple

    He needs to apologize to Steve Jobs family...publicly.

  1. locosam

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I suggest an experiment for the Daisey... After extensive trial and error on his part(s), I would love a factual report ( geez, I don't know who to get for verification) on the details of his attempt to cohabit, with himself. Seems a reasonable request, don't you think?

  1. macnnoel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    15 mins of fame - now please disappear

    macnn should stop posting these vomit inducing pics

  1. chas_m




    I find it interesting that so many here go out of their way to mention Daisey's weight as though it was an issue in the story. I guess you guys are OK with thin or normal-sized liars -- or is someone going to try and claim that none of you are voting Republican this year? Yeah, right.

    Daisey's deception was ugly, but there's plenty of similar ugliness on display right here in this thread ...

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