I'm so sorry to hear that Phelim McAleer showed up to your camp and about the chaos he left behind. I'd like to share a bit of information with you that might help you navigate any further interaction with him.
Your peaceful protest has been very powerful. So powerful that those who seek to stop you sent in an attack team to smear you, to wrongly portray you as violent and unreasonable.
Phelim McAleer and his team have a history of attacking environmentalists and contamination victims. The team plans how they'll incite anger. Once they get people upset, they cut their film to make themselves look like victims and those they’ve attacked look like aggressors. In fact, that kind of attack journalism is a main way they make their living. Phelim McAleer and Magdalena Segieda have played out the same scene many times across the nation. They cook up attacks on people they claim to be honestly reporting on, further their brand with the fake media they create, getting away with it time after time. I've seen this up close. For three years I’ve been documenting cases of fracking related water contamination, which often brings me across the path of their victims.
The stunt Phelim pulled in Scranton, Pennsylvania this past spring is a good example. The Ely and Hubert families are part of a massive water contamination case in Dimock, Pennsylvania. Their federal jury trial was held in Scranton in February. Phelim showed up to do his brand of journalism. The gas company’s lawyers cozied up to him in the court room and he churned out eleven fact-free “articles” carried by right wing media outlets. The articles smeared the Ely’s, calling them liars and bad parents, parroting the same false claims Cabot Oil and Gas’s lawyers made in the court room. Phelim took Cabot’s (baseless) defense for ruining people’s water wells, and made it into “reporting.”
But that was not enough. When Facebook limited his access to his FrackNation page for 24 hours after he posted a video about Scranton that violated Facebook standards, he claimed his Facebook page had been shut down. It hadn't. He claimed fracking activists flagged his posts in protest to his "truth telling." They hadn't. But it got him lots of media attention.
Even that was not enough. On the last day of the trial, he popped out from behind a car and chased Dimock water contamination victims down the street demanding they apologize to people of Dimock. No, that makes no sense, but it was his way of inciting the family into anger, then filming that anger and calling himself a victim. A man shouted from across the street for Phelim to leave this family alone. He would not. The police were finally called.
Phelim took his film of the incident, cut out his attacks and framed the family as violent frauds. The saddest part of the story is that his doctored film got 45,000 views--and his fans bought the whole thing. The attack video he did that same day of Professor Tony Ingraffea got nearly the same number of views and was equally faked.
Phelim McAleer may seem like the sort of “journalist” one should ignore and he’ll go away. Sadly, that’s not the case. FrackNation remains the top pro-gas film in the US. It’s played frequently at universities as if it is a real film. Students who come to a showing leave believing real fracking-related contamination victims are liars. Both Phelim and his wife, Ann, are frequent speakers at large political- and energy-related conventions. They've used these speeches to further their attacks on real contamination victims.
Magnolia Pictures carries FrackNation as if it is an actual film. As far as I know, they don’t realize it’s a bold hoax. Neither does Netflix. It will be a great service to this nation when Phelim’s work is exposed for what it is: a hoax.
The following is an AK Productions project that takes you inside the FrackNation hoax. Include are interviews with people Phelim Mcaleer has attacked along with short film that pulls all these threads together.
The main theme of McAleer's work is framing environmentalists and fracking-related pollution victims as liars and frauds. From claiming the air in Los Angeles is 'like heaven' to calling frack fluid no more dangerous than coffee, FrackNation is a fracking falsehood bonanza that claims to be the 'truth about fracking.' Yet, the film's framing of fracking-related pollution victims as fame-seeking phonies is by far its most egregious hustle.
When Phelim McAleer came to Dimock Pennsylvania, he'd already planned to punk water contamination victims. He lied to families, saying he was an Irish anti-fracking film maker working to keep fracking out of Ireland. He got four interviews. He used one small clip from one interview, using it to make the person look like a liar. Victoria Switzer's interview lasted nearly two hours. It brought a friend in the room to tears. still, it was left out of the film, as were facts about the water contamination case in Dimock Victoria shared.
FrackNation perpetrates this hoax by simply leaving out all the valid evidence of water contamination related to gas extraction. When Loren Salzman drives Phelim down Carter Road and tells him that every water well is active and online, and that the Sautner family has no evidence to prove their water contamination case, Phelim just nods his head and includes the clip in FrackNation. Even Loren Salzman knows testing done by Pennsylvania's regulator found drilling-related contamination, including uranium. Salzman is a party to the case because his water was also contaminated. Salzman just forgets to mention it, and, of course, McAleer doesn't ask.
No decent journalist telling the story of water contamination in Dimock could leave out the results of the state's testing, the state's violations filed against Cabot Oil & Gas, and the state's lawsuit against Cabot. What Phelim McAleer does in all of his films, but particularly in FrackNation, is not journalism, or even bad reporting. It's a scam, a hoax.
McAleer's coverage of the Ely/Hubert water contamination trial proves this is a deliberate tactic, not just poor research. Research would have told Phelim that Pennsylvania's 9 mile ban on drilling and fracking remains in place because water is still contaminated in the area. Despite this and and publicly known testing confirming the contamination of the Dimock aquifer, he framed the victims as frauds. Any trialtestimony from the trial that served the narrative of Cabot Oil & Gas was reported as fact, any testimony that supported the victims, was omitted.
McAleer also pulled one of his favorite tricks in Scranton. Attack, play the victim, edit. He did this with Dimock water pollution victims Craig and Julie Sautner, following them down the sidewalk in Scranton asking them to apologize to Dimock, until the police had to be called. Then Phelim cuts his film to the few seconds when Julie Sautner gets upset, claims she won't answer questions, then releases the heavily edited film that gets 40,000 views on the fabricated incident.
This was Mr McALeer's second major attack on Julie Sautner. The first is when he uses them in the pivotal scene in FrackNation making water pollution victims look bad. After lying to the Sautners to get an interview, McAleer later showed up again at the Sautner home to demand he be given some of the Sautner's water so he could have it tested. When Julie Sautner would not allow it, McAleer claimed he'd just take one of the jugs from the front yard when Julie was not home. This led to a two-hour stand-off, which McAleer cuts down to four minutes of Julie Sautner looking angry and upset. It's a tool Phelim uses often--and he has punked his base just as often.
He used the same tactic on Calvin Tillman, former Mayor of DISH, Texas, another victim of pollution related to the fracking boom. DISH suffered years of air contamination when their tiny town became major center of fracked gas compressor stations, relief vales, pipelines and fracked gas wells. In FrackNation, McAleer presents the case as a sham, as if Mayor Tillman made it up. To further cast Mr Tillman as a fraud, Phelim showed up at a talk Calvin was giving at a library in Santa Maria, California. When Calvin didn’t answer his questions in the way that Phelim hoped, Phelim made a scene. McAleer was ejected from the library and staff was forced to call the police when he stood out on the sidewalk and yelled into the library every time the door opened.
Then, McAleer produced a video claiming Mr Tillman would not answer “hard questions.” I had the opportunity to ask Mr McAleer a few hard questions myself when I met him at a showing of his film in Texas. He seemed to have very little knowledge of the subject he made a film about. At one point he even asked me into the men's room with him to cover up his lack of knowledge. He repeatedly insulted me, calling me a stalker and a spammer - entirely fallacious charges - and he refused to answer any question about his many claims of fraud by pollution victims. McAleer needs to put his own name on his list of people who he says won't answer hard questions.
Fracknation and Phelim McAleer's public appearances are a key part of the cover-up that keeps the whole fracked gas machine running. McAleer writes the propaganda that mis-informs the base that supports the politicians that lock us into a fossil fuel future. He promises to pollute our national conversation on abortion next with his film Kermit Gosnell. His work must be exposed as the fraud it is and the American people informed about the real harms the fracking boom has and continues to cause.