Phelim Mcaleer wrote the article "Happy Hookers of Eastern Europe" for The Spectator in 2003, allegedly debunking experts working on human trafficking of young women for the sex trade in Eastern Europe. In his classic style, Phelim argues that women who claim to have been taken against their will or tricked into working brothels are generally lying. Prostitution is simply a choice.
"The emphasis on the huge amounts of cash available could be all the encouragement that some women need," McAleer claims. It's untrue, of course. Nearly one fourth of these women were under the age of 18, and in-depth studies done at the time documented forced human trafficking, calling it a humanitarian crisis.
McAleer wrote the sex-trafficking article while he was covering Romania for The Financial Times, he should have known better. In 2003 he was already a successful reporter, having worked for The Irish News, The UK Sunday Times and The Economist before he began making films. This early case of shamelessly calling victims liars reads much like his later attacks on environmentalists, anti-fracking activists and Al Gore. McAleer has more than a decade of selling doubt under his belt.
While McAleer worked on many smaller film projects, we'll focus on his last three full length documentaries
Mine Your Own Business | 2006
In 1995, a convicted heroin dealer named Frank Timis made a deal with the Romanian government for rights to mine Europe's largest gold deposit. The open pit mine would require the demolition of Rosia Montana, a historic Romanian village including ancient churches and cemeteries, along with four miles of historically priceless Roman gold mining tunnels dating back to the first century. Four mountains would be leveled and replaced with a 5-mile wide crater. Extracting the gold would require 13,000 tons of concentrated cyanide, with up to 250 million tonnes of cyanide-laced tailings stored in a waste pond a few hundred meters from the Abrud River.
Despite Timis’ inside connections, the project stalled and permits were later annulled by Romanian courts following growing local and global opposition. Opposition stiffened in 2000 when the largest cyanide tailing spill in history happened in Baia Mare, Romania. A dam containing tailings from a nearby gold mine burst, releasing 100,000 cubic meters of cyanide-laced water into tributaries of the Tisza river and on to the Danube, killing large numbers of fish in Hungary and Yugolavia.
Few of these facts appear in McAleer's film “Mine Your Own Business.” By leaving out most of the facts, he can claim the mine is nothing but good business and a job creator that will lift the poor out of poverty. Anyone who opposes the mine is an elitist snob bent on keeping poor people poor. From the film's website:
"Mine Your Own Business" exposes the dark side of environmentalism. The documentary hacks away at the cozy image of environmentalists' as well meaning, harmless activists. “Mine Your Own Business” is the first documentary which asks the hard questions of foreigners who lead campaigns to "save" remote areas from development. Their answers are often disturbing, with racist overtones, but we, in the west, blindly support such campaigns that want to keep people in poverty."
“Mine Your Own Business” was funded by the Canadian mining company, started by Timis, that stands to make billions from the deal—as long as they can demolish the mountains, the ancient village and priceless the Roman mines. “Mine Your Own Business” is a propaganda film made to promote this corporate agenda.
“Mine Your Own Business” never aired in theaters, except an opening showing in Romania. After fifteen minutes, people were so repulsed by the film that a riot broke out and the theatre had to turn off the projector. “Mine Your Own Business” was instead promoted on Fox News, through conservative think tanks and Tea Party groups.
Since “Mine Your Own Business,” McAleer has made a career out of attacking environmentalists in films and presentations to conservative audiences.
Not Evil Just Wrong | 2008
“Not Evil Just Wrong” aimed—with some success—to undermine the momentum for action on climate change generated by Al Gore's film “An Inconvenient Truth.” It stands as the first major climate change denial documentary, and spawned a cottage industry of “experts” revealing how the well-established science on climate change is a hoax. The film paints Al Gore as a liar, environmentalists as dangerous humanity haters, and climate change science as part of a government plan to create poverty:
“Global warming alarmists want Americans to believe that humans are killing the planet. But ‘Not Evil Just Wrong’ proves that the only threats to America (and the rest of the world) are the flawed science and sky-is-falling rhetoric of Al Gore and his allies in environmental extremism.”
This extremism, according to McAleer is a threat to our way of life. He warns Americans that their jobs, modest lifestyles and dreams for their children are at stake. Industries that rely on fossil fuels will be crippled if the government imposes job-killing regulations on an economy already mired in recession.
“Not Evil Just Wrong” purports to expose a conspiracy that experts, politicians, educators and the media have been force-feeding the public for years. According to the film, man-made carbon is not melting the polar icecaps. The ocean will not rise as the ice caps melt. And the only polar bears dying because of man are the “ones who try to eat men.”
By 2007, the fossil fuel industry had a massive, well-funded campaign to cast public doubt on the validity of climate science. The oil companies used the same tactics the tobacco companies used when their product was found to have harmful side effects; they even used many of the same PR firms. Industry along with conservative and libertarian donors funneled millions into a network of climate change denial groups including an array of think tanks. Since the Citizen’s United ruling, conservative donors have funneled millions through 'dark money' channels, leaving the public in the dark about who is funding what.
“Not Evil Just Wrong” received a little more than $24,000 of that dark money funding. The film does a good job covering talking points the donors support and paid to have marketed.
The film was never released in theaters, and once again conservative political groups and media were crucial to its viewership:
"They brought the film to every major conservative conference of 2009, including the Values Voter Summit and Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit,” one news media report explained. “At the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], McAleer and McElhinney spoke right before Rush Limbaugh.”
"This is tailored-made for the Tea Party movement,” says McAleer.
“To promote the film,” says Townhall, “McAleer dialed in to Wednesday’s weekly conference call for 150 Tea Party leaders in California. Dawn Wildman, co-coordinator of the California Tea Party Patriots, said the reaction was tremendous."
“Not Evil Just Wrong” popularized the conservative meme of bashing Al Gore and environmentalists. Like “Mine Your Own Business” the main theme is the dangerous lies and agendas of the green movement, an obvious talking point of the fossil fuel industry who hopes to use the climate change denial machine to keep America on their product. They reach some new lows for what's considered journalism. One of my favorites from Ann McElhinney, McAleer’s wife and film making partner:
Jerry Sandusky and Michael Mann - Much in Common?
FrackNation | 2013
“FrackNation” is an industry-backed attack on “Gasland,” a widely acclaimed film by Josh Fox about the environmental dangers of the fracking boom. FrackNation was the first major pro-fracking documentary, and the opening salvo of a new industry denial campaign. McAleer claims he searched five minutes on the Internet and realized all the victims in the “Gasland,” who claimed to have methane in their water after nearby gas drilling and fracking, were lying. McAleer repeats the oil industry talking point that the methane was always there. He even had billboards erected making the claim.
If McAleer had researched six or seven minutes, he would have found that the victims in Dimock, the site of a major contamination case covered in Fracknation, all had pre-drill testing, which found no methane in their water before drilling. But facts don’t stop McAleer from repeatedly claiming the methane was already there and the victims just money grubbing frauds.
The film deliberately misleads viewers about all three cases of contamination it covers, Dimock, DISH, Texas and Parker County, Texas. The film is a collection of distortions, character assassination and outright lies that replicate industry propaganda: the toxic water used in fracking is no more dangerous than coffee; the type of fracking done now is the same as 60 years ago; tests showing contamination were fraudulent; videos of flaming faucets and water wells were faked; the New York Times published scandalously unethical coverage of the fracking boom; the EPA and state environmental agencies have never found a single case of water contamination.
The film was funded by Kickstarter, supposedly indicating its populist origins. But the film was heavily advertised within the fossil fuel industry, to gas and oil industry workers and, again, to many Tea Party groups. The film is, in fact, a hoax. It deliberately falsifies the record, misleads viewers, smears the reputations of victims of drilling-related water contamination by calling them liars and frauds.
McAleer's latest project is "Gosnell" which paints Kermit Gosnell as America's greatest serial killer and liberal media as supportive by covering up the story:
"Dr. Kermit Gosnell is the most prolific serial killer in American History, but almost no one knows who he is.
The Grand Jury investigating Kermit Gosnell's horrific crimes said this: "This case is about a doctor who killed babies ... What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy -- and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors .... Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it." (Report of the Grand Jury)"