Josh Topolsky says Mike Daisey had to lie

Josh Topolsky:

Mike Daisey is not a hero, but I’m not sure he’s a villain either.He leaned into his lies to sell tickets to a show, to get on network TV, to make money and get famous. But along the way — either on purpose or by accident — he opened a lot of eyes.And that’s the truth.


Daisey made up some horrendous lies about Foxconn and Apple that never should have been told. He didn’t open anyone’s eyes. Rather, he infuriated the population with false stories of abuse, caused harm to the reputations of both companies and many of its executives, including Steve Jobs and Tim Cook.

Apple has been auditing its factories since 2007 and making conditions better for workers — that’s before Mike Daisey came along and they’ll be doing it after he leaves the public eye. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. In fact, much of the information that media organizations use against Apple comes from the reports it makes public.

There is no reason to make excuses for Daisey or his lies.

  • Here here!

  • Is Topolsky recognizing a little bit of Himself in Daisey?

  • James

    The only eyes Daisey opened are people like Josh Topolsky and other tech bloggers who are blind to information or do not do proper research to know that Apple has been auditing its factories since 2007. Shame on all of them.

  • I’ll be very interested to read Topolsky’s entire case about this. I’m hoping there’ll be something within it that raises my low opinion of his reliability.

  • def4

    Topolsky can’t afford to look like he’s defending Apple. Everyone will paint him as a fanboy and he’ll lose a big chunck of his readership.

  • BenDTU

    While I enjoy reading The Verge, it seems all rational thought is thrown out the window when ethical issues are discussed. Josh and Laura obviously have a lot of interest in these areas, which doesn’t make for terribly unbiased reading.

  • Steven Fisher

    There’s nothing more truth than the truth. Topolsky’s a tool.

  • Anon

    I’m probably not going to make many friends on this one, but at what point does this become bullying? A guy lied, got caught, and probably won’t ever be taken seriously again. He made a horrendous “mistake” (intentionally), and this has been beaten to death for two weeks now. I was upset as anyone when this broke, but in a world where we have Glenn Beck, FOX news, and spray cheese in a can, are we really worried that apple might lose a few bucks over some DB trying to make a name for himself?

    • Mike Daisey did shit nothing to Apple’s bottom line. 

      What he’s getting reamed for is a) being a lying sack of shit, and b) REFUSING TO REALLY ADMIT IT. He just keeps justifying and justifying.

      he had every option to do a good show that wasn’t based on lies explicitly labeled as factual. He chose not to. Exactly why should i have any sympathy for him?

      • Anonagain

        Exactly why can’t you let it go? Will you ever be able to get over it?

        I don’t condone what Daisey did…I just think it’s time to let it go.

        But that’s just me. I could be wrong.

        • Because the waste of Carbon is still out there trying to make money off a pack of lies and still won’t admit his mistakes?

          If he’s not going to do the right thing, why the fuck should anyone give him a break so he can continue his bullshit act?

        • His Shadow

          It will be let go when Daisey himself, in addition to his defenders, accept that Daisey lied and that there is no defense for lying. Its far too late for Daisey to hide behind some high concept of embellishment in the service of a narrative. Daisey presented his narrative as nothing less than unvarnished truth. It was not.

    • Daisey polluted discussion about the very issue he claimed he was trying to raise awareness of. And he did it by painting himself as the crusader who made the middle class aware of it.

      Had he the good sense and ethical awareness to stop performing his show under the flag of “nonfiction” — or simply stop performing it at all — he’d deserve less criticism. That hasn’t happened, and he’s still out there grabbing attention and profit from his big lie.

      Bullying? Would you call it that if someone out there was enjoying fame and fortune by telling lies about, say, your family? Wouldn’t you want to shut him down or get him to recant somehow?

      • Anonagain

        Is he telling lies about your family? That would be awful, and I would take your side. As would just about everyone…which renders him useless and exposed. 

        No need to keep kicking him once he’s down. 

        • HE’S NOT DOWN.

          That’s the part you don’t get. Theaters are still showing his work, still defending him, he’s still making money off this, and he still thinks he did nothing wrong.

    • jamesdbailey

      If you can read this post, knowing what we now know about Daisey, and still believe that Daisey is redeemable, then there is no hope for you:

      • Anonagain

        Maybe you’re all right. Maybe hatred can be productive and fun, especially when you have the perfect person to justify it on. I guess my problem is: I don’t think exactly what you think.

        He lied, he got caught, he can’t own it, and the blogosphere just can’t let it go. It’s sad from every perspective.

        Would foxconn ever exist as it is in the US? Why or why not? If it did, then how would you feel about it? A large complex with dorms (that you have to pay for) and the factory works you 12 hrs a day and pays you $2.75/hr. There are nets installed around the building to prevent more mass suicides. Would you accept that in the US, yes/no? 

        Stop worrying about Apple. Apple will be fine. I love their products, but this whole thing sucks.

        No hope for me.

        As you were…

        • I’m sorry this lasted longer than turning your twitter background green. That’s the thing about actually doing something. It takes a bit of time and effort.

          Here, if you turn your twitter background plaid, you’ll make Mike Daisey honest.

        • This isn’t hatred. It’s legitimate criticism of yet another douchebag who’s making money off scandal and gossip, the more so after having tricked supposedly legitimate news organizations into giving him airtime. There’s a difference.

          “Let it go”? Ignoring someone like this just makes it easier for the next guy who decides to pollute public discourse with gossip that pretends to be fact. I’d rather make it more difficult, thanks.

          • Yawn

            I have no respect for Daisey, but the more you people push, the more attention you give him. The god damned guy shows up a dozen times a day at DF and the loop. You people are even linking to his writing. You’re giving him traffic.

            Nevermind…keep fighting the real fights. Who am I to complain. 

          • “You people.” That’s actually funny. As though there’s a coalition of some kind here doing things like starting online petitions or standing vigil outside his hotel.

            What is it you believe we’re “pushing,” exactly? Is it his ticket prices, or something connected with the way his booked theaters are defending his garbage?

            Or do you believe, after all this, that he’s just a harmless performance artist trying to make a dishonest buck in a cold world?

            Or do you just want us to stop criticizing the guy because you feel sorry for him?

        • jamesdbailey

          This has nothing to do with worrying about Apple. My worry or lack thereof will have no impact on Apple at all.

          I also don’t hate Daisey. I feel a good measure of disgust for his lack of ethics and honor though.

          There is little dispute that Foxconn’s manufacturing business would not be legal in the US (though from what I’ve heard, US manufacturing is not as progressive as people want to believe).

          No this is about Daisey as a person and his actions.  I’m guessing you didn’t read the post that I linked to since you didn’t reference it in your reply. The post from Diasey basically calls out David Pogue as a shill of Apple’s because he quotes some factual reports instead of going along with Daisey’s significantly exaggerated claims. It is self-righteous and condescending and given what we now know about Daisey’s methods, downright cynical. Daisey certainly knew when he wrote the criticism of Pogue that much of what Pogue wrote was true yet he excoriates Pogue for being in the pocket of Apple while citing his own credentials as a defender of the Chinese worker.

          Think about what kind of person would do this. Daisey could have ignored Pogue but instead claims that he had to respond because of his integrity. If this doesn’t make you ill, again, there is little hope for you as a decent person. Daisey cynically called out Pogue to further his own agenda without regard to truth or honor. No hatred but maybe a little pity for such a broken and twisted person.

        • lucascott

          Apple is not a part of this. We know that Apple is fine. 

          This is more about making sure that the truth is out there because Mr Daisey and the theaters are still trying to profit from ticket sales to the uninformed. 

          If you want to go see a show that is not truth but claims to be and you know this is the case, fine. But many don’t know it. 

          As for the conditions at Foxconn and the dorms and such. It’s the cheapest room and board you could ask for, you aren’t forced to live there and what is the per hour cost of living compared to the wage.  A lot less than $2.75. 

    • lucascott

      Let me answer it this way. At what point should this Douchebag actually just admit that yes he lied and apologize. Because he hasn’t yet. He is still saying he didn’t lie. And people are defending him. When clearly he did. He lied. He hid the identity of his translator to cover it up etc. 

      And worse he is wrongly taking credit for things he didn’t actually cause to happen (they have been going on for months) and he took innocent people’s money because they paid to see his non fiction show based his claims that he was telling first hand obtained truth. 

      • AnonAnon

        But his translator called him out, and now regardless of what he says, we all know he’s lying. He’s been neutered. He can still stroke himself, but it’s not going to be worthwhile. It’s pathetic enough that I hate to see people lower themselves to a pointless screaming match. There will be no winner. 

        I also don’t understand why people give him a continuous platform to defend and promote himself. It’s obviously a bit personal…I seriously doubt if this happened to Dell we’d all be so outraged.

        And I have nothing against Apple. My first computer ever was a B&W G3, then an iBook, a Cube, G5, MacBook, 17″ MBP, and now a 27″ iMac. I buy a new Mac every ~18-24 months. I’ve owned each gen iPod (pre-ordered the original and was moved to tears when I rediscovered all the music I had left behind, but now had with me everywhere I went), each iPhone, AppleTV, bought my parents the original iPad, bought the iPad 2 for myself and gifted it to my mom 2 months ago, and I’ve had a strong aversion to just about anything done by the competition for the last 13 years. This kid isn’t going to change how I feel…I understood what was happening long before he came along, but it’s up to others to figure out what they believe. We’re on the defensive. We look like we’re protecting out interests, and it makes him stronger.

  • Db

    It’s my understanding that he prefers to be addressed as “the infallible Josh Topolsky.”

    Get it straight.

  • swotam

    This is typical Topolsky. Whenever there’s a subject that requires the writer to take a stand on an issue, or even just decide which side of the issue they agree with, you’ll find him waffling all over the place, trying to support and simultaneously disagree with whatever the subject happens to be.

    It’s stuff like this that makes The Verge less than it could be.

    • Have you noticed that he’s been getting progressively more hyperbolic as the months go by? It seems like he’s angry about something but can’t explicitly state it. It actually feels like The Verge is trending toward that generally which it dragging down the overall quality of the site. There’s been sensationalistic headlines and outright trolling (ex. an article on “Addressbookgate” said that Apple had “finally” addressed the issue…7 days after the story had broken) going on with some of their writers. It makes me wish none of them had left Engadget.

      • I think the OCD-inspired design of the site itself is making some of them crazy over there.

        • Seriously. Vlad Savov used to just review cell phones and cell phone-like gadgets. Now he’s starting flame wars with people who don’t like Mass Effect 3’s ending.

  • The whole story of the abused Chinese worker has been full of  lies and cultural bias from almost every source from the start. Daisey is but one of the most blatant liars of these stories. 

  • Andy Lee

    Terrible Washington Post article accompanied by a misleading uncaptioned photo. Those are not real Foxconn workers.

  • satcomer

    Daisey is no better than “the boy who cried wolf”. So in the future when someone does find horrible conditions no one will believe the report. That’s that sin Daisey has done.

  • A lot of you guys don’t seem to understand the nature of Daisey’s lies.  This is from the Transcript of TAL’s “RETRACTION”:

    QUOTEWe did fact-check the story before we put it on the radio. But in fact-checking, our main concern was whether the things that Mike says about Apple and about its supplier, Foxconn, which makes this stuff, were true. That stuff is true. It’s been corroborated by independent investigations by other journalists and studies by advocacy groups. And much of it has been corroborated by Apple itself in its own audit reports.But what’s not true is what Mike said about his own trip to China. As best as we can tell, Mike’s monologue in reality is a mix of things that actually happened when he visited China and things that he had just heard about or researched, which he then pretends that he witnessed firsthand. He pretends that he just stumbled upon an array of workers who typify all kinds of harsh things that somebody might face in a factory that makes iPhones and iPads. And the most powerful and memorable moments in the story all seem to be fabricated.END OF QUOTEAt least according to  This American Life, the idea that’s been repeated over and over in these comments over an over that  Daisey “told lies about Apple” is not true.  He told lies about his trip.  In a performance piece this probably wouldn’t be so bad, but he lied about it to get on the radio. And I don’t know who Josh Topolsky is, but nothing in the quote says that “Mike Daisey had to lie”.