Because of the controversy surrounding Mike Daisey's "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," which was aired and then investigated by "This American Life," the playwright will not speak at Cornish College of the Arts' commencement, nor will he receive an honorary degree, the college said on Friday.
Playwright Mike Daisey will not be the Cornish College of the Arts commencement speaker, the Seattle college announced Friday, reversing an earlier decision.
Daisey, a former Seattle resident, wrote the solo show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” in which he describes meeting workers who were underage as well as workers who were poisoned by their jobs making Apple products in China.
The piece came under scrutiny after Public Radio International’s “This American Life” aired excerpts from it — and then found some of “Agony” to be fabricated. The show aired a retraction last month, during which Daisey said that he didn’t meet any workers who were poisoned by their factory jobs, and that he guessed at the ages of some of the workers he met.
Before the retraction was broadcast, Cornish president Nancy Uscher said the college stood behind its decision to have Daisey speak at commencement and to receive an honorary degree. “We’re honoring Mike Daisey for the body of his work,” Uscher said in March.
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But on Friday, Cornish said in a news release that “Mike Daisey will not participate in the 2012 Commencement ceremony at Cornish College of the Arts. Mr. Daisey has acknowledged that he personally did not witness all the events that he said he did, and he exaggerated the level of his own experiences to journalists.
“Since its founding by Nellie Cornish in 1914, Cornish College of the Arts has educated and prepared students to contribute to society as artists, citizens, and innovators. One essential principle of that education is the importance of professional integrity. Because of that foundational value, Cornish will not award an honorary degree to Mr. Daisey.”
Daisey responded on his blog (http://mikedaisey.blogspot.com) on Friday, saying, “I’ve apologized for what I’ve done wrong. Cornish’s choice to grandstand on my back, when they had a very open statement from me withdrawing almost two weeks ago, is their choice. I applaud their embrace of ‘professional integrity’ — it’s unfortunate that they didn’t exercise that integrity in this case.”