An Open Letter to Mike Daisey

Mike is an artist, not a journalist. Nevertheless, we wish he had been more precise with us and our audiences about what was and wasn’t his personal experience in the piece.

Statement by The Public Theater on the controversy surrounding Mike Daisey’s play, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.

Yeah you took on Amazon. Burned out on the Peter Principle, you told stories out of school, as former-Amazon colleague Matthew Baldwin so eloquently notes. What the hell. That’s theater.

Next? You put Apple in your sights. Why not? Lots of $$$ and Chinese factories that are a muckraker’s field of dreams. We all love tales of wealth’s evil side and the contradictions of our privileged existence. Plus, the halls of Amazon are filled with ex-Microsofties. Lots of Apple love/hate memories to surf on. You knew the drill.

But you have to get it right, Mike. This line you insist on drawing between journalism and the theater doesn’t exist. At least, not in the context of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. Because it’s a work that provokes demands real-life changes in Chinese factory conditions, it demands real-life truths. Not fabrications, confabulations, dramatic malfeasance or the like. Phrases like “I’m feeling,” I’m thinking,” and “I read” are NOT weasel-phrases. They are part of the truth. And, no, this is not a case where the end justifies the means.

Ok, you made a mistake. We all make mistakes. You just make big ones. Huge ones. You’re forgiven. But you should have seen this coming. Brendan Kiley did, with a simple fact check. You only get so much free hubris. Eventually somebody sees through your shit.

So what’s next for you, my man? A prediction…

Next Stop: REHAB.

Hell, there’s another monologue in there about “truth,” “lies,” “damned lies” and “journalists.” Throw in the whole This American Life bit. Spin it for all it’s worth. Yeah. Rehab. It’s the quintessential American experience. You’ll be genius.

You already have a theme song. “The Biggest Lie,” by Elliott Smith. Like I said. Genius.