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Woz supports Mike Daisey's message and says you should too

Apple co-founder says he loved Daisey's show and believes media misunderstands the actor and Apple critic. He credits Daisey with helping to prod Apple into improving working conditions in China.

Wozniak speaking
Steve Wozniak says he's 100 percent behind Mike Daisey.
James Martin/CNET

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said today that he loved Mike Daisey's show, believes his message is crucial, and said he spoke glowingly of Daisey to Steve Jobs before the Apple CEO died.

In an interview with CNET, Wozniak explained that the media misunderstands what Daisey and actors do. He added that after seeing Daisey's show in Berkeley, Calif., last year, he did not take away the impression that Daisey bore a grudge against Apple.

"I didn't get the sense that Mike was anti-Apple," Wozniak said. "I think he loves Apple's products and I told this to Steve Jobs. I think Mike was looking at Apple to become one of the positive forces for having influence on improving things."

Daisey stars in a one-man play called "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" and in it he claims to have seen signs of suffering at the factories in China where iPads and iPhones are assembled. Daisey is under fire now after acknowledging he made up some of his tale.

He allowed excerpts of his show to be used as a factual report on a news-radio program and vouched for the authenticity of his monologue during interviews with news outlets. Woz didn't address Daisey's journalism credentials, or lack of them, but did comment about his show and said that he was very moved after seeing it in February last year. He told the Bay Citizen following the performance that he was moved nearly to tears.

"I'm a presenter," Wozniak told CNET. "I give 50 or 60 talks a year. I'm involved in community plays, musicals and ballets, a lot of performing arts...what actors do is to try to dramatize issues and events that are real. When you're watching Stephen Colbert and 'The Daily Show' not everything they say is factual but what they're presenting is real. It's a method of presentation that brings issues and ideas more to your awareness."

"A lot of people are saying [about Daisey] 'Oh you didn't experience this yourself,'" Wozniak continued, "but in his style of art he's trying to help the audience experience these things. I never expected the show to be real. The 'Pirates of Silicon Valley' [the film about the early rivalry between Apple and Microsoft] was not completely accurate. How could it be? But the movie is very true in the way that matters most."

Some of Daisey's audiences have indeed seemed grateful to him, at least as an entertainer. Yesterday, at his final performance in New York, the audience gave him a standing ovation.

What is most important to Wozniak is that the furor over Daisey not diminish in any way the message he tried to convey: working conditions must be improved in China's factories.

"I think his monologue has influenced Apple to take steps in that direction the best they can," Wozniak said. "I don't want to see that undone. Because people must know there are workers who can't get medical coverage and are underage and are put on a blacklist that prevents them from getting work again. I applaud Mike Daisey because of the attention and understanding he has brought to this."

"His show gets people feeling good and they tell themselves 'I want to be a good person,' is there anyway I can help?" Wozniak continued. "I think Mike Daisey got Apple and other companies more attuned to the issue--to do the most they can to make corrections. That's my impression about what has happened. His method succeeded."