Daisey’s claims were called into question by a reporter with knowledge of Apple’s suppliers
The makers of an influential US radio show have retracted a programme critical of working conditions in a Chinese factory making Apple devices.
This American Life made headlines when a January edition, broadcast extracts of performer Mike Daisey’s account of a visit to the plant.
Public Radio International says it has now learned that Daisey’s monologue included fabrications.
It said he had made up meeting interviewees who “had been poisoned”.
The episode, entitled Mr Daisey and the Apple Factory became This American Life’s most popular podcast, and was downloaded 888,000 streamed 206,000.
The broadcast was followed by a series of articles in the New York Times looking at Apple’s working practices and production methods.
Facing increased scrutiny, the firm later announced that it would allow third-party audits at its factories and release a list of its suppliers.
In a press release issued by the programme-makers, This American life said that when asked, Mike Daisey’s Chinese interpreter had disputed some of the show’s most dramatic moments – including claims that Daisey had met underage workers employed by Foxconn, a key Apple manufacturer.
It said the story was also called into question by a reporter from another public radio production – American Public Media’s Marketplace.
“In his monologue he claims to have met a group of workers who were poisoned on an iPhone assembly line by a chemical called n-hexane,” This American Life’s press release said.
“Apple’s audits of its suppliers show that an incident like this occurred in a factory in China, but the factory wasn’t located in Shenzhen, where Daisey visited.
“‘It happened nearly 1,000 miles away, in a city called Suzhou,’ Marketplace’s Schmitz says in his report. ‘I’ve interviewed these workers, so I knew the story.’”
Mr Daisey said he stood by his work, but in a blog post added that he regretted the broadcast of a 39-minute monologue from his stage show.
“What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theatre are not the same as the tools of journalism,” he wrote.”
“This American Life is essentially a journalistic - not a theatrical - enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations.”
The show’s host, Ira Glass, wrote in a personal blog post that in retrospect he and his team were “horrified” to have broadcast Mr Daisey’s account.
“Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Redd during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast,” he wrote.
“That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.”
Apple was not available for comment.