The Silence of the Weasels (or: The silences from that incredibly awkward Mike Daisey interview on “This American Life”)

by Joey deVilla on March 21, 2012

If you haven’t yet listened to episode 460 of This American Life, Retraction, you should. It’s the one in which they retract the content of episode 454, Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory, in which Mike Daisey relates his experiences of a visit to China to see the factory where iPhones and iPads are made. Daisey tells stories of meeting with underage and injured workers, armed guards at the factory and secret union meetings at Starbucks — stories which turned out to be fabrications when investigated further.

Mike Daisey, weasel

Daisey was invited back to NPR’s studios to explain himself, and in the episode, he’s a total weasel. He does apologise for presenting his piece as journalism, but he insists that it’s theatre, which gives him some artistic license in telling what is essentially a true story. He refuses to acknowledge that he lied or attempted to cover up the truth, even when confronted with evidence that he did so.

Instead of being a grown-up and owning up to his mistakes, when questioned, he hedges, he makes lame excuses, but most damningly, he just sits there and says nothing. There are long periods of silence after he’s asked questions that would clearly expose his fabrications, and they’re rather painful to listen to.

Michael Sippey’s done something clever: he’s taken those questions and the following silences and turned them into a single piece titled The Silence of Mike Daisey, which you can listen to using the audio player above. It’s all of Daisey’s weaselling, all in one go.

Found via Jason Kottke. Thanks, dude!

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hampton March 21, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Ha. Awesome man. I totally agree listening to that was super awkward. SO WEASLY. He so obviously should have just owned up.

And I love the silence bits…

2 Kim April 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Whoa whoa whoa! Weasels are fine and noble creatures! I’d prefer to call him a turd burglar.

3 Jess April 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I know that IG apologized and everything, but I felt that focusing the segment SO MUCH on Daisey’s stammerings seemed to detract from that apology. None of us care about Daisey, but some of us had previously trusted TAL to exercise a modicum of diligence with respect to its “serious” stories. (The stories that are just some guy talking about what happened to him that one time back in college etc. are an exception to this.) I got the impression that IG was attempting to distract us with a scapegoat in lieu of a serious examination of TAL’s actions and policies.

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