It is possible to Lie to tell the Truth?


Do I think Mike Daisey is a liar? Well that is a slippy slope and I think it matters how you approach the piece. I think that if you approach the piece from a journalist point of view, you will get a totally different response than it you view it as a artful, theatrical piece. From a journalist point of view, I think Mike Daisey lied about many facts in this monologue which does make me question his piece as a whole.His piece did have a big impact on me and it left a bitter taste in my mouth when I finished listening to it. So when I heard that facts were not true, I was a little enraged. The untruthfulness of his monologue lost the trust of a majority of viewers who depended on the facts of the story. It is frustrating because public radio especially has a commitment to the public to report honest, truthful stories and Mike Daisey’s monologue should have never been on the station. I had a big feeling that at least one experience was false. He stated that he took a cab drive with his translator and the exit ramp petered off out into thin air 85 feet off the ground. I have seen highways that end in mid air in Africa, but they are severely blocked off and it was impossible to go anywhere near to the end of the highway. I was confused when I heard of this experience because especially in a country like China, the country would not just leave an unfinished highway unmarked. When you think about it he did lie about a majority of his interactions and experiences in China. It is arguable that there was no underage workers, no experiences talking with hundreds of different workers, no factory guards with guns, but was the lying for a great purpose?

While I think that Mike Daisey lied about a majority of his experiences in China, I do think that this a special case where lying is not always bad. There are exceptions to every reason and concept in the world. Theatrically, the piece does not have to be totally based on facts, but instead it must tell a compelling story. Even though I do believe that Mike Daisy lied, I do not believe that Mike Daisy is an unethical liar. He lied about the facts of his journey, but he did not pull the facts out of thin air. He did not create brand new accusations about Foxconn or say things that informed citizens would not already know about Foxconn. There have been many stories written about workers exposed to toxic substances, underage workers, suicides, factory fires, and workers being severely injured due to lack of safety measures, but none of this stories have been discussed all together on a big stage like Mike Daisey did. Daisey lied about important facts in his monologue in order to redirect the public attention back on the conditions of factories at Foxconn. I do not plague him as a liar because I believe that he really wanted to find the truth on his trip, but he did not have the experiences that he wanted to have. He lied about his experience, not about what is really going on in China. He was caught exaggerating the truth, but it was to call attention to an ethical problem in China. Unfortunately, this is the society that we live in that a story has to be gripping to attracted viewers. I feel that Mike Daisey faced a dilemma and he chose to amplify his experience in order to open people’s eyes. If there were no underage workers, no men with disfigured hands, no workers affected with n-hexane, do you really think that the same magnitude of people would still pay attention to it?

Mike Daisey knew that he was lying and he was quite uncomfortable when he was caught in the lies. I did feel bad for him in a way because you could tell the sincerity in his voice. He stated that he regretted putting his work on public radio, but his exaggerations were not to make him famous or improve his life, it was to bring attention to a horrible issue in China. His lies caused him to lose the trust of the public, but his lies made a bigger impact on the public than an Apple report or Times article ever did. In my opinion, the translator summed it up perfectly. She said that she was not mad at Mike Daisey because “he was a writer not a journalist.” Are you really going to plague a man an unethical liar for trying to improve society?

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One thought on “It is possible to Lie to tell the Truth?

  1. I agree with the points you made in the second paragraph of your post, when you argue that he did complete his intended job: to inform the public about the terrible conditions in Foxconn. And although the way he did it was unethical, he did tell stories about what transpired that are true. What is interesting is that Ira Green’s Retraction probably drew even more press, in addition to what had been already circulating. Although the segment put Daisey in an unfavorable light, people will still research the issue now that they are more aware. Retraction did tarnish Daisey’s reputation, but it did not belittle the issue at hand. Maybe there really is “no such thing as bad publicity.”

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