WV Public Broadcasting Staff
Upper Big Branch
Mon March 31, 2014
Senator Claims Misrepresentation in UBB Film
Updated Tuesday April 1, 2014 at 9:27 a.m.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin wants the company to pull the entire documentary from the internet, discontinue distribution, and remove all references of the Senator. According to a release, Manchin today sent a letter to Adroit Films, the firm that filmed and produced the Don Blankenship-funded documentary, demanding the company to remove what Manchin is calling "propaganda" from all websites.
Senator Manchin wrote, in part: “Your fraudulent behavior in securing the interview and your misrepresentation of my interview are actionable offenses. I expect you to cease distribution of this film and remove any references to my name, image, and likeness. Please respond to this letter in writing immediately to confirm what actions you are taking in response to my request.”
The release goes on to say Senator Manchin’s office has repeatedly attempted to contact Adroit Films via phone and email. Adroit did not immediately return our requests for comment.
Updated Monday March 31, 2014 at 5:24 p.m.
It appears that Adroit Films has pulled the individual interviews recorded for Upper Big Branch: Never Again.
The interviews were available earlier today to watch on YouTube along with the full documentary earlier today.
Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship released a documentary today claiming it “looks at what really happened at the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.”
The film, released on YouTube Monday, is titled Upper Big Branch: Never Again, debuted just days before the fourth anniversary of the mining disaster that took lives of 29 miners.
Produced by Adroit Films, the documentary disputes the findings of the Mine Safety and Health Administration following the 2010 accident.
MSHA blamed the explosion on an unsafe level of coal dust and poor ventilation within the Raleigh County mine.
Instead, the film claims there is forensic evidence that natural gas inundated the mine through a crack on the mine’s floor and supplies testimony from “independent experts” to support that claim.
In a release, Senator Joe Manchin called the film company a propaganda firm. Manchin, who appears in the film, said the firm lied to his face when they approached him for an interview to talk about mine safety. He said they made no mention of the film’s ties to Blankenship.
“He should be more concerned with his role in the deaths of 29 brave miners and the ongoing U.S. Department of Justice investigation rather than filming a propaganda documentary,” Manchin said.
“I am not only livid that I was lied to, but I am even more enraged that Don Blankenship would manipulate a tragedy to promote himself and his own agenda.”
Manchin said he will be pursing legal action against Adroit Films.