In his first public remarks since This American Life ran its retraction of his Foxconn story last weekend, Mike Daisey explained how the system of talk-show types interviewing journalists turned him into a liar. "It's insidious," he said, in remarks at Georgetown University that The Atlantic's Rebecca Rosen transcribed (Daisey also posted a recording of the address on his blog). "It's insidious and I am part of it too, because I am telling the story on stage, and in the story on stage, I play the role of a bad reporter." Yes, he's a bad reporter, but in his explanation of how the Foxconn story got away from him, Daisey tries to spread the blame to the other media outlets that let him pass along his fabrications unchallenged:
We'd sit down and they would start the interview on camera or something or radio and they would say something like, "Mike Daisey, now, you've gone to China and you've done X, Y, and Z," and they would say something that was a little hyperbolic, not quite exactly correct, and I would feel awkward about actually saying, no, no, no, don't say that, that's not true. Or they'd say, "You've gone inside of Foxconn." And I'd be like ... I didn't go inside of Foxconn, but I was outside of Foxconn. And I would find myself not interrupting them because we're in interview situations.
Of course, the irony is that this is now his defense once a reporter -- namely Marketplace's Rob Schmitz -- did confront his lies. The notion that every time someone praised his piece somehow absolved him of his original journalistic sins seems to be reaching for an after-the-fact rationalization. The rest of the transcript can be found here.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.