This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, October 5, 2015:
Josh Fox, the independent filmmaker who made a name for himself in the anti-fracking movement with his controversial film Gasland, introduced a new anti-fracking film last Thursday called Gaswork: The Fight for C.J.’s Law on the MSNBC show All In With Chris Hayes.
The “C.J.” of the film’s title is C.J. Bevins, a 23-year-old roughneck who was working at a gas drilling site in Smyrna, New York, in May of 2011 when a forklift accidentally pinned him against a trailer, causing his death. When Fox learned of the tragedy, he knew he had his next assignment: reviewing the safety and health of workers in the oil and gas fracking industry.
Although Bevins died in a freak accident, Fox instead used his death to focus on the alleged dangers of fracking chemicals, claiming:
[Fracking jobs] are extremely dangerous, exposing workers to chemicals whose long-term impacts on human health are yet unknown … the fatality rate of oil field jobs is seven times greater than the national average.
We interview many workers who have been asked to clean drill sites, transport radioactive and carcinogenic chemicals, steam-clean the inside of condensate tanks which contain harmful volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other chemicals, and have been told to do so with no safety equipment.
Fox claimed to have interviewed workers who were ordered to cover up toxic chemical spills, that the industry is paying them to “poison their own communities in order to feed their families,” and that “if you get hurt, you’re on your own.”
It didn’t take Phelim McAleer — the maker of the documentary FrackNation (his rebuttal to Fox’s Gasland film) — very long to realize that he also had his next assignment: exposing Fox’s lies in Gaswork. Calling his exposé GasHoax, McAleer also timed the release of his film for Thursday on Breitbart.com, describing Fox’s latest effort as “a zero credibility film because it comes from filmmaker Josh Fox, who has a history of health hoaxes regarding fracking.”
In FrackNation McAleer exposed a whole host of Fox’s lies in Gasland, including the most famous one of all: the “flaming faucet” incident. After Fox claimed that water flowing from a faucet near a fracking site could be set on fire with a match, his deceit was exposed in a public challenge by McAleer, widely seen on YouTube and Vimeo, when Fox was forced to admit that methane in water had been known to flame up since at least 1936, but claimed that it “wasn’t relevant” to his purposes in Gasland. When that video began to get traction. Fox and his lawyers moved heaven and earth to have it removed. Happily, it was restored and is available at Youtube.com.
Energy in Depth — a research, education, and public outreach campaign funded by the Independent Petroleum Association of America — went even further, publishing a list of factual errors that Fox made in Gasland that runs seven pages long.
But what really outraged McAleer was Fox’s 18-minute film, The Sky Is Pink, in which he claimed that fracking in the Barnett Shale region in Texas was causing breast cancer. Said McAleer:
Fox’s breast cancer film was widely reported by the mainstream media but has since been dismissed as nonsense by every respected cancer expert in the region.
Fox has never corrected the record or apologized for scaring women and families.
In the same manner as FrackNation, McAleer rebuts Fox’s claims in Gaswork, interviewing experts who state that there is no increase in health or safety claims due to fracking.
Although neither film is yet available in theaters, the trailer for Fox’s Gaswork and McAleer’s trailer for GasHoax can be seen online.
Josh Fox is an unethical journalist. Everyone knows that, except Chris Hayes and MSNBC, apparently. They need to ask him tough questions, not give him a platform so he can scaremonger and spread fear.
The first question Hayes should have asked Fox is: Do you still stand by your claims in your film The Sky Is Pink? If he had said no, the second question should have been: Are you going to apologize for making those false claims?
As McAleer declared, “That would be real journalism. The people of America deserve it.”
Unfortunately, in the 4:39 long segment, Hayes never raised either question, but instead let Fox promote Gaswork as though it were credible, fair, and balanced.