Give Me Your Answer, Douche

above: monologist and admitted liar, dressed as apple

It’s This American Life, I’m Ira Glass… Act Two, He Loves Truth Not…

If you’re just tuning in, we’ve learned that a story we broadcast last week that we thought is factual… is not factual. That would be Gil Mann’s story about Mike Daisey’s story about Apple in China.

I had questions about the fact checking process he went through with This American Life producer Brian Reed and I when we were first putting his story on the air. This process of fact checking took days with long emails and conversations with Gil.

And as part of all that, when Brian and I asked Gil for contact information for his translator Linda to confirm that she witnessed the things Gil describes, he told us that, because of some rather extreme circumstances we’ll get to in a moment, he had no way to reach her. When we asked Linda about this she said that wasn’t true at all. So I asked Gil the next logical question.


Ira Glass: Okay, so… why did you need a Chinese translator in the first place? Mike Daisey’s American, not Chinese.

Gil Mann: Yeah, I know. I needed someone who spoke “pretentious” fluently, so I hired an art school student.

Ira Glass: A Chinese one?

Gil Mann: Linda’s from Toms River.

Ira Glass: But her family’s from China, right?

Gil Mann: Are they? I mean, I know she’s Asian, I just needed someone who knew what “semiotics” are, stuff like that. I didn’t go looking specifically for a type, but the student body at art school is 88% Asian females.


Ira Glass: Is that… is that true?

Gil Mann: Strictly speaking no, but it feels true, doesn’t it?

[long pause]

Ira Glass: Mike Daisey didn’t really eat Linda, did he, Gil?

Gil Mann: No, not as such.

Ira Glass: So that was what, a fat joke?

Gil Mann: Well, I did think it would unpack the complexities of, of like how, how the story gets told. 

[overlap, inaudible]

Ira Glass: What does that mean, unpack the complexities?

Gil Mann: Well it means, it means that, I mean I think I’m agreeing with you.

Ira Glass: That it was a fat joke.

Gil Mann: I think of it as a way to convey his “appetite for life.”

Ira Glass: Okay, I guess I can…

Gil Mann: And food.

Ira Glass: So when you said Mike Daisey was surprised to learn that “apple” wasn’t a made-up word, implying that he’d never heard of the fruit… which I have to say, seems pretty farfetched in hindsight… fat joke?


Gil Mann: I’m so sorry.

Ira Glass: You put us in this position of going out and vouching for what you were saying and all along, you were just taking these lazy shots. Did you ever stop and think about that?

Gil Mann: I did, I did. I thought about that a lot.

Ira Glass: And just what did you think?

Gil Mann: I felt really conflicted. I felt… trapped. 

Ira Glass: Trapped how?

[long pause]

Gil Mann: Ira, when Mike Daisey sits around… 

Ira Glass: Okay, we should move on, there’s another claim I’d like to ask you about. Now, you said you snuck into a performance of The Agony and Ecstacy of Steve Jobs. You told us Mike Daisey entered wearing long johns with red briefs worn on the outside and a towel tied around his neck, and that he began his monologue by shouting “Whiteman to the rescue!” You said all this, correct?

Gil Mann: I did, yes.

Ira Glass: We’ve tracked down some people who were in attendance the night you claim to have been there and… their accounts don’t line up with yours at all. Mike Daisey didn’t come on stage the way you described.


Gil Mann: Didn’t he though, Ira? Didn’t he?

Ira Glass: And when you said “a monologist is a stand-up comedian whose jokes suck,” I assume you were exaggera…

Gil Mann: No, I stand by that assertion. 100% factually accurate.


And over the weekend, Gil let me know that he wanted to come back in… he had something he wanted to say, and on Tuesday he showed back up at the studio. And… I’ll be honest… I thought he was going to admit more of the story wasn’t factually accurate, wasn’t truthful. But that isn’t why he wanted to come in… he was sticking by his story… but he wanted to explain the context for what he did, and he said the context was this: fuck Mike Daisey.

And he wanted to tell a story that would make people hate. That was his goal.


Ira Glass: You say you’ve done some more investigating?

Gil Mann: Dude, have you seen Mike Daisey’s blog since he was on?

Ira Glass: I haven’t, no.

Gil Mann: Oh, you have to. After being all contrite on the air with you, now he’s saying stuff like… hold on, lemme quote some of…

Ira Glass: That’s really not necess…

Gil Mann: “Many consider this week’s THIS AMERICAN LIFE episode one of the most painful they’ve ever listened to. In particular the segment with me is excruciating—four hours of grilling edited down to fifteen minutes. I thought the dead air was a nice touch, and finishing the episode with audio pulled out of context from my performance was masterful.”

Ira Glass: Ugh.

Gil Mann: Or this: “Given the tenor of the condemnation, you would think I had concocted an elaborate, fanciful universe filled with furnaces in which babies are burned to make iPhone components, or that I never went to China, never stood outside the gates of Foxconn, never pretended to be a businessman to get inside of factories, never spoke to any workers.”

Ira Glass: I’d love to just put this behind m…

Gil Mann: There’s more of that, I particularly like how he compares himself to Mark Twain, but I’m afraid if I stay on his page too long all that vinegar and water’s going to fry my laptop’s circuits.

Ira Glass: So you’re saying he’s not even a man, he’s a…

Gil Mann: I’m saying Mike Daisey is literally a giant douche.

Ira Glass: That’s not what literally means.


Gil Mann: In my heart it is.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24/12 at 07:10 AM • Permalink

Categories: I Don't Know Much About Art, But I Know What I LikeMessylaneousNews

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Bravo, sir.  The sad-but-predictable part is, the folks who’ve already booked Daisey are standing by his BS.

(BTW, is that a still from a Rollins Band video, or a reference I’ve missed?)

This whole thing really has been a fiasco, hasn’t it. And I can’t even feel smug being a non-Apple-customer because it’s certain all the other factories are as bad or worse.

(BTW, excellent title as usual. I sang it through all the way to “a bicycle built for toosh.”)

Fuckin’ brilliant, Gil.

I heard an excerpt of a recent speech by Daisey on the CBC yesterday, where he quivered and thundered that HE was reporting these issues, but WHERE were the foreign correspondents. (Umm, a lot of people reported this before you, Mike.) He’s got his persecution complex, his supporters and his second wind. He’s going to be around a while making this all about Mike Daisey.

Gee, I wonder why Daisey has a persecution complex? Could it be because the jerks at This American Life are making him a scapegoat for their own stupidity? Or because bloggers are jumping on the bandwagon to condemn him for what are barely misdemeanors committed while reporting on some big mf sins? Daisey is evil, NPR is “balanced” and nobody should vote for Obama because, because…

He’s being punished for his arrogance, santa (and by the way, you aren’t nearly as jolly as I’d imagined). Daisey didn’t tell this story to spread the truth, he did it to glorify himself. There are a lot of reporters who did a hell of a lot more than Daisey (including the guy at NPR who caught him) and didn’t expect anyone to congratulate them on their heroism. No one gets to “enhance” the truth.

Not to mention the Yellow Savages crap in his monologue. That thing about the worker who described a computer as “magic”? My jaw literally dropped.

Awesome troll…  (He may be “Saint Nick” in december but, like many people, he’s “Saint Dick” on the internet.)  Daisey lied on a widely-heard and -respected radio show, then flailed around with some of the most pathetic justifications I’ve ever heard.

This has nothing to do with advocating for better labor standards in China.  In fact, if anything, Daisey’s shenanigans set the movement back.  FWIW, I believe the first and third worlds will meet somewhere in the middle, standard-of-living-wise, and we should try to make that point as high as possible.  Americans had something close to another civil war (Ludlow, anyone?) to give us weekends and 8-hour workdays; does the rest of the world have to do the same?

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