Mine Explosion Filmmakers: Manchin Wasn’t Tricked Into Participating

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) is at the fulcrum of the national energy debate.
National Journal
Jason Plautz
Add to Briefcase
Jason Plautz
April 2, 2014, 1:30 p.m.

The film company behind a controversial documentary on a deadly coal mine disaster is denying that it tricked Sen. Joe Manchin into appearing in the film, even as the West Virginia Democrat insists he was duped into participating.

The company, Adroit Films, released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that it “did not deceive or intend to deceive any interview subject about the film or its participants.” Participants, Adroit said, signed a release before filming and were asked to “comment on mine safety and mine disasters.”

Manchin, who is interviewed in the documentary, has said that he was duped about former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s involvement in the film, in which Blankenship says federal investigators ignored evidence about the explosion that killed 29 miners.

Adroit’s statement does not clarify whether subjects were informed that Blankenship was funding or would be appearing in the documentary, but says that information about a separate project with Blankenship was available on Adroit’s website. That film — titled American Common Sense — concerned the cost of government regulations.

“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides for the freedom of the press and freedom of speech for individuals and companies,” Adroit said. “Every person is entitled under the First Amendment to have an opinion and discuss matters of public concern, including Adroit Films and Don Blankenship.”

In a statement Wednesday, Manchin accused Adroit of practicing “a pattern of deception while producing this supposed documentary.”

“Nobody disputes Adroit Films’ constitutional right to produce a documentary,” he said. “What we dispute is their right to lie and deceive. They knowingly omitted the fact that Don Blankenship, a man whom I believe is responsible for the deaths of 29 miners, was funding their propaganda film in order to secure an interview.”

The documentary released Monday says that a buildup of natural gas was behind the 2010 mine explosion, contrary to federal, state, and independent reports that blamed coal dust and a faulty ventilation system. In an interview on MSNBC, Blankenship said that his denial of manmade climate change biased federal investigators.

Several other participants in the film have since said they were not aware of Blankenship’s involvement. In a joint statement, professors Tom Hethmon and Kim McCarter of the University of Utah Center for Mining Safety and Health Excellence said that filmmakers promised them “that the documentary for which we were interviewed was about the advancement of mine safety standards in this country, and that Don Blankenship had no involvement, financial or otherwise, in the film’s production.”

Explosion expert Martin Hertzberg also told the Charleston Daily Mail that he also was not aware that Blankenship was behind the video.

Manchin has vowed to take legal action against Adroit.

What We're Following See More »
INDUSTRY ALREADY CUTTING BACK IN ANTICIPATION
Trump Makes Good on Threat to Tax Solar Imports
9 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"In the biggest blow he’s dealt to the renewable energy industry yet, President Donald Trump decided on Monday to slap tariffs on imported solar panels. The U.S. will impose duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made abroad, a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply. Just the mere threat of tariffs has shaken solar developers in recent months, with some hoarding panels and others stalling projects in anticipation of higher costs."

Source:
GOP MUST REDRAW MAP BEFORE 2018 ELECTION
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down Electoral Map
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS
Source:
ENVISIONS PUBLIC-PRIVATE INVESTMENT COOPERATION
Text of White House Infrastructure Bill Leaks Online
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Text from the Trump Administration's planned infrastructure program were published online. According to the documents, 50 percent of funds appropriated for the program will be used to encourage "state, local, and private investment in core infrastructure by providing incentives in the form of grants. Federal incentive funds will be conditioned on achieving milestones within an identified time frame." An additional 10 percent of funds are earmarked for "innovative or transformative" infrastructure projects, 25 percent for rural infrastructure projects, 7 percent for federal lending programs, and 5 percent to create a financing fund for "large-dollar real property purchases." White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said: “We are not going to comment on the contents of a leaked document but look forward to presenting our plan in the near future."

Source:
IT’S OFFICIAL
Senate Votes to End Shutdown
4 hours ago
THE LATEST
DACA VOTE TO COME
Dems Agree to Take McConnell’s Deal
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he's accepting Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's offer to hold an immigration vote at a later date, "clearing the way for passage of a bill to reopen the federal government" today. "McConnell early Monday promised to take up an immigration bill that would protect an estimated 800,000 Dreamers from deportation, under an open amendment process, if Democrats would agree to end the government shutdown."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login