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Sunday, March 18, 2012, 04:30 am PT (07:30 am ET)

Artist changes Apple, Foxconn monologue after admitting falsehoods [u]

After admitting on the "This American Life" radio program that he had fabricated some of his experiences for dramatic purposes, artist Mike Daisey has changed his monologue about Apple and its manufacturing partner Foxconn to remove anything he can't "stand behind."

Update: Daisey has posted a recording of the new prologue from his performance on Sunday.

Associated Press drama writer Mark Kennedy reported on Saturday that Daisey had decided to add a prologue at the beginning of the show, which carries the title "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," and cut out some fictional elements.

According to the report, the Public Theater's artistic director Oskar Eustis said that the artist had "eliminated anything he doesn't feel he can stand behind" and placed a new segment at the beginning to provide "the best possible frame we could give the audience for the controversy." He also noted that the decision to make the changes was solely made by Daisey.

"Mike is a great storyteller, not a journalist. I wish he had been clearer about that distinction in the making of this piece," Eustis told the publication. "If we had understood the rules Mike was using to make the show, we would have framed it differently from the outset."

Daisey's monologue recounted a trip that he took to China to visit a Foxconn factory where he claimed to have met underage workers and injured workers who hadn't received medical attention.

The production shot into the limelight after "This American Life" aired an episode about Daisey in January. The broadcast became the most downloaded episode of the show and prompted a number of consumers and non-profit groups to start petitions calling for Apple and Foxconn to improve working conditions in China.

Mike Daisey


However, journalist Rob Schmitz managed to contact Daisey's interpreter and confirm that several incidents he claimed to have experienced were false. For its part, "This American Life" had performed its own fact checking of Daisey's story, but they did not contact his interpreter because he told the show that her name was Anna and he didn't know how to reach her.

"This American Life" host Ira Glass issued on Friday a retraction of the January episode. The retraction was the first of its kind for the show.

"Daisey lied to me and 'This American Life' producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast," Glass wrote in a statement. "That doesn't excuse the fact that we never should've put this on the air. In the end, it was our mistake."

The New York Times subsequently corrected its own piece on Daisey from last year, removing a paragraph about which "questions have been raised" about its truthfulness.

In a statement on Friday, Daisey originally said that he stood by his work. "It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity," he said, adding that his only regret is that he allowed "This American Life" to air an excerpt of his monologue.

The new version of the monologue now makes mention of the fact that Daisey's translator "does not remember things which he does remember," Eustis said.

Daisey has born the brunt of sharp criticism from veterans within the theater industry. For instance, The Wall Street Journal's chief theater critic Terry Teachout called Daisey's deceptions "unforgivable."

Others have worked to bring the focus back on the plight of the workers, dismissing Daisey's inaccuracies as irrelevant to the issue of alleged labor abuses at Foxconn and other manufacturers in China.

Apple has refused to comment on the controversy surrounding the monologue. CEO Tim Cook did, however, dismiss the show last February at an annual shareholder meeting. At the time, Cook reassured investors that Apple has "the highest standards" for worker safety and environmental friendliness.

"I don't need to see a play. I know Steve Jobs," he said.