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March 16, 2012 at 1:08 PM

‘This American Life’ retracts Mike Daisey-Steve Jobs segment

Mike Daisey is shown in a scene from "The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, " at The Public Theater in New York last fall.(AP Photo / The Public Theater, Stan Barouh)

Misha Berson, Seattle Times theater critic

The popular public radio show “This American Life” is retracting a story that aired Jan. 6, titled “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,” which focused on the theater piece “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” by New York monologist Mike Daisey.

Daisey, who lived in Seattle for several years, performed the show here at Seattle Repertory Theatre in 2011. He was interviewed by The Seattle Times then.

According to the radio program, Daisey’s account of his trip to China to investigate working conditions at factories assembling Apple products “contained significant fabrications.” After the program aired, additional fact-checking revealed that some of Daisey’s story, including alleged conversations with his translator and underage factory workers, did not hold up.

In a statement on his blog on Friday, Daisey said he stands by his work. He wrote that his monologue, which has helped spark new public interest and further action by Apple in correcting labor abuses at Chinese electronics factories, “is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity.”

In a program set to air this weekend, on stations including KUOW (which airs it 7-8 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-noon Saturdays), “This American Life” will explain its retraction and and feature an interview with Daisey about the incident.

Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle recently announced Daisey will be its commencement speaker, and he will receive an honorary degree from the college. Cornish College president Nancy Uscher said Friday afternoon that the college’s invitation to Daisey stands. She said that the honor is for “body of work.”

“The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” is currently playing at the Public Theater in New York. The Seattle Times also spoke with Daisey after Jobs died last year.

“This American Life” is produced by WBEZ-FM in Chicago, and airs on more than 500 stations and is heard by about 1.7 million listeners.

Comments | More in Arts & Entertainment, General news | Topics: Apple, China, Mike Daisey

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