Phelim McAleer, investigative journalist and filmmaker of the new short film Gashoax, sat down with Breitbart News to discuss his rivalry with anti-fracking activist and producer of Gasworks, Josh Fox.
McAleer had an outstanding career as a top newspaper investigative journalist with the Irish News, the UK Sunday Times, the Financial Times, and The Economist, covering such incendiary topics as the IRA and the aftermath of communism in Eastern Europe.
Phelim told me that after covering numerous controversial topics, his favorite journalist quote was George Orwell’s comment: “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want published; everything else is public relations.”
When I asked him how he became involved in the fracking debate, he said, “I am always concerned when somebody uses emotion and an ends justifies the means to shut down debate.”
McAleer said that was the case when participated in a Chicago question and answer session featuring Fox to promote Fox’s 2010 documentary Gasland.
The film scored a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and earned an Academy Award nomination due to its shocking depiction of a local resident lighting his faucets on fire, supposedly due to fracking for natural gas in the community. Fox’s message was that big corporations were using a new natural gas drilling technique that was poisoning rural drinking water and running roughshod over the local people.
McAleer asked Fox if he knew that northeastern Pennsylvania residents have been lighting their faucets from natural gas seepage as a community prank for many decades, long before fracking. Fox readily agreed that there were “reports in 1936 that people say they could light their water on fire in New York State.” Fox said the issue was not “relevant.”
But when McAleer put his question and answer up on YouTube, Fox thought it was “relevant” enough get his lawyer to “make threats of lawsuits” to force taking down the clip. Because McAleer had to fight to get the link back up, the battle lines were drawn. McAleer says that Fox inappropriately “strings together anecdotes to create a large piece of unethical journalism.”
Appalled that Fox would want to “shut down free speech,” McAleer reached out to Kickstarter to make an alternative film. The grass-roots effort raised $212,000 in small donations from 3300 people to make FrackNation ($2.99 on YouTube). The movie became a big viral hit and a cause of great distress or annoyance to liberals by scoring a 72 on Rotten Apples.
With Fox about to release another example of what McAleer calls “bad journalism” to propagate a new theory in Gasworks that hydraulic fracking is dangerous to workers–Fox is “withholding facts to keep telling his story,” McAleer says–McAleer decided to immediately challenge Fox’s problematic arguments by releasing Gashoax.
Gashoax will be released on Breitbart.com on at 9 a.m. EDT, Thursday, Oct. 1.