Saturday, March 24, 2012


So, in the last week or so, this whole Mike Daisey/This American Life has come down. Let me be clear from the get-go, I'm a fan of Mike Daisey. To some degree, he has inspired me in the past and I consider him a talented colleague. I see his strengths and, also as a solo performer and theatre artist (director/playwright, etc.), I can see many of his weaknesses. Having met him and seen a few of his pieces live and been to his blog and followed him on YouTube, etc I can say "Yeah, I keep up with Daisey." I've mentioned him several times on this site.

In a nutshell, the situation I'm referring to in this post concerns Daisey on an episode of This American Life back in January. He did an excerpt from his show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" about abuses in the Foxconn factory that makes Apple equipment. The trouble was that, as broadcast on National Public Radio, Daisey allowed his work to be represented as factual truth. In fact, when asked straight-to-his-face by the producers of This American Life, Daisey blatantly lied and said, basically, "yeah, it's all true."

But, factually, Daisey fabricated a lot of details and spun/exaggerated tiny details here and there in his piece. And this kind of thing does not fly on a show dedicated to journalistic standards of factual reporting. So, bottom line, Daisey misrepresented himself in a very, very public way. He was caught lying.

My colleague and friend Chris Taylor moderates a theatre website centered around the Dallas-Ft. Worth area called The Stage Directions Blog. Chris is a thinker-about-the-theatre, and over beers the other night he mentioned this Daisey/TAL thing. I had been out of town and hadn't heard of it yet. I was on my honeymoon last week, actually, on cruise in the Caribbean, unplugged. Chris' news took me by surprise. The whole thing has many layers and has a ring of real human tragedy. For Daisey.

Chris has posted a pretty thorough summary and weigh-in on the situation in his post. He poses an interesting question about the responsibility of a performer to tell "the truth." It is totally worth a look. Here.

To read the transcript of the original Jan. 6, 2012 episode of This American Life (the audio has been taken offline), go here.

Go here the This American Life Retraction episode, go here.

Go here Daisey's reaction to all this, listen to a recent talk he made at Georgetown. Here.

Still processing exactly how I feel and think about the whole thing. What do you think?