Keen On… Mike Daisey: Technology Journalists Are All Cowards

Editor’s Note: In March 2012, the national radio show “This American Life”, which ran a long excerpt from Mike Daisey’s play “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, retracted its story saying it contains significant fabrications. Daisey responded saying the play “uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story.” TechCrunch has interviewed Daisey several times about his acclaimed play and he repeated to us some of the stories he has now admitted he didn’t actually witness. For more, see John Biggs’ TechCrunch post on “The Agony and Ecstasy of Mike Daisey“, and other posts about the retraction and Daisey’s response.

I wore my yellow t-shirt to honor the return of Mike Daisey to TechCrunchTV. Daisey, the great monologist whose acclaimed show, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, is currently running in New York City, believes that technology journalists are cowards who are failing to report on the real stories about the impact of technology on labor and the environment. Daisey’s special issue is the working conditions inside the gigantic Foxconn factory in Shenzhen which, he says, are grossly exploitative and inhuman.

In the past, Daisey has been deeply critical of Apple and other US hardware companies’ moral responsibility in financing Foxconn. But now his particular ire is now directed at technology journalists such as The New York Times’ David Pogue who, he says, have such little interest in these issues that they haven’t even bothered to attend “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”. Daisey believes that this is because technology journalists have become adjuncts of the companies that they cover and, thus, are terrified of criticizing corporations like Apple. The end result, Daisey says, is that these cowardly tech journalists have become implicit partners of what he calls “the fascist thugs” who run the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen. It should be noted that TechCrunch’s John Biggs visited Shenzhen earlier this month and will be reporting on the conditions there in this series.

This is the first part of a two part interview with the iconoclastic Daisey. Tomorrow he explains why America shouldn’t try to emulate the Silicon Valley business model of outsourcing production to China.