On Friday at The Society Of Environmental Journalists conference, Al Gore got caught up in the increasingly common "town hall" moment with independent filmmaker Phelim McAleer. McAleer is making a documentary titled "Not Evil Just Wrong," which will attempt to debunk global warming by labeling such concerns "hysteria." McAleer starts the video stating he's going to ask Gore "tough questions," and during the Q & A starts aggressively questioning Gore about inconsistencies in An Inconvenient Truth and whether he accepts the British High Court's ruling that the film contains errors. McAleer goes on to badger Gore about polar bear statistics until he's asked to stop and then his mike is cut.
Watch how the former vice president reacts and the argument that ensues.
As Curtis Brainard at the Columbia Journalism Review writes about the incident:
Conservative blogs are already trying to cast the event as proof that environmental journalists are nothing but "homers" and treehuggers who won't challenge their sources or report critically on environmental issues. Those assessments are shortsighted and wrong.
Tim Wheeler, the "bouncer" depicted in the video who cut off McAleer, wrote about the incident in a blog on the conference's website.
Later, in the foyer, I spoke to McAleer, wanting to be sure he understood why he'd been cut off. He accused me and SEJ of censoring a journalist, and observed that we were shielding our speaker from tough questions. I responded that he had been free to ask his question and even got a chance to follow it up, but that he didn't have a right to monopolize the Q&A. He said he was simply trying to get Gore to answer his question. I told we gave him a chance to ask it, but we couldn't guarantee an answer to his satisfaction, and with both Gore and him simply repeating themselves, fairness dictated that he yield the mic to others waiting to pose their questions.
Here's a link that debunks McAleer's claims about polar bears.