I don’t remember if the part where Daisey met workers poisoned by the screen-cleaner N-Hexane was in the show when I saw it a year ago. (Daisey says he doesn’t use scripts and that his shows evolve from night to night.) It was one of many anecdotes included on This American Life. Now we know Daisey read about poisoned workers but never met any; he didn’t actually see the trembling, nerve-damaged hands he described so vividly. Daisey has lately claimed this falsehood slipped into the show gradually, as he was performing the unscripted piece at theaters around the country by night and doing Apple-shaming TV appearances by day.
While Daisey’s charge against the media—that no one was doing substantive reporting on Apple’s supply chain until he shamed them into it—smacks of self-inflation, recent investigations by the New York Times and other outlets have substantiated Daisey’s basic message that our luxury devices are literally handmade by people working in grueling conditions that western workers wouldn’t tolerate. It’s rare for a piece of oral storytelling to ripple into the broader culture the way other narrative forms do, and it wasn’t mere muck-racking sensationalism that made it happen. Daisey’s a shitty journalist, but a hell of a tale-spinner.