The Most Ironic Critique of Mike Daisey's Inaccuracies

It has been nighttime in Australia, and I am just starting to look at the many Mike Daisey reactions that have come in during Sunday daytime for readers in North America.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DebHeadShotSydney.pngBut there is one I have to deal with right away. A writer named Jason Mick, at the Daily Tech site, criticizes, as I have, the things that Daisey got wrong or made up. Then he adds:

(In another moment of his monologue [Daisey] states, "The moments of our life where we're actually truly honest with another person are so f**king rare, that when they happen we usually end up married to that person."

Mr. Daisey is married to Deborah Fallows, a Chinese native who wrote the book Dreaming in Chinese.)

It is true that Deborah Fallows, shown at right on the balcony here in Kirribilli, wrote the book Dreaming in Chinese. It is true that friends have told her that she might as well have been born a native Chinese person, since her spirit matches that of Chinese women in so many ways.

But she is a native of Chicago, not any place in China, and of Czech rather than Chinese ethnic background. And she is most definitely not married to Mike Daisey. At least that is what she told me when she stormed back into the bedroom this morning irate about what she had just seen about herself online.

Jason Mick might want to ratchet back his outrage over Mike Daisey's sloppiness with facts. I would not bother to mention this except for the tendency of Internet myths, unchallenged, to take on lives of their own.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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