April 3, 2014 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 4Comment

You’d think the man responsible for the death of 29 coal miners would show remorse and not subject us to his opinions. Nope. That’s not what we should ever expect from Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy.

Four years ago this coming Saturday, April 5, will mark the 4th anniversary of the coal dust explosion that killed 29 workers at the Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine. Blankenship thinks it is appropriate to mark the anniversary with his propaganda. Blankenship hired Adroit Films of Chesapeake, VA to produce a documentary called “Upper Big Branch – Never Again.”  It offers his tired, old, not-based-in-fact opinion on what he says really happened at UBB. I’m not providing a link to the film, and haven’t watched it.

My colleague, Patrick McGinley, the Charles H. Haden II Professor of Law at West Virginia University watched the film on behalf of several of us. Here’s some of what he reported:

“It is a re-hash of everything Blankenship has said already about UBB. The video of a ‘simulation’ of a crack and gas blasting from a purported gas reservoir is absurd. Having Stan Suboleski (former Director of Massey Energy) trumpeting Safety is #1, Production is #2 is preposterous. I expect the families of the UBB miners to be outraged by this grotesque effort to whitewash Blankenship’s profits over safety policies.”

McGinley and I were part of the WV Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel examining the UBB disaster. Referring back to that experience, McGinley also remarked to me:

“If Blankenship, Massey and Upper Big Branch managers knew the causes of the explosion – why did they refuse to testify and invoke their 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. It’s no doubt easier to cherry-pick facts for a video propaganda piece than answer questions under oath and have the ‘facts’ you assert subject to cross-examination.”

McGinley also noted that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) appears briefly in the film. Given Blankenship’s lack of credibility, it seemed odd that the Senator would have agreed to appear. Well, according to Manchin’s spokesperson, he didn’t.

In “Joe Manchin Claims He Was ‘Lied To’ About Involvement In Don Blankenship Film,” the Huff Post’s Paige Lavender provides a statement from a Manchin spokesperson. It reads in part:

“Adroit Films, the propaganda firm behind this shameful documentary, never disclosed to me the intent of this film. They lied to my face and told me this documentary was focused on mine safety. …Had I known the film was in any way associated with Don Blankenship, I would have never agreed to the interview. …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. I am going to pursue every legal recourse available against Adroit’s despicable tactics.”

And the Senator’s closing words:

“The most tragic part of all of this is that the families of these miners are forced to suffer yet again at the hands of Don Blankenship.”

Don’t give Don Blankenship the chance to tout the number of “hits” he receives for the film on YouTube. Boycott the film.


4 thoughts on “Boycott! Don Blankenship’s propaganda film about Upper Big Branch disaster

  1. I haven’t watched the video,never will. I saw on ABC news last night how smug he was responding to the interviewer and the anguish he is causing these poor families of the deceased.

    I would like to see the arrogant,self serving SOB sealed in the bottom of a dark ,cold,damp coal pit with nothing but his video showing the faces of the men he killed ,over and over, until he ran out of air.

    Daughter of a coal miner.

  2. The guy is obviously an unrepentant chronic sociopath. I won’t give him a click either. Agreed with Elaine, he needs to be locked up in a mine with an endless loop of the faces of his victims.

    The predecessors of the men he killed gave us the first Industrial Revolution. Their descendants could give us the next one in the form of thorium for clean fission, for which all of our descendants would be thankful.

  3. I agree with the boycott, but I watched the video on Monday, before the boycott was announced. The technical misstatements are ridiculous. But what’s really sad and infuriating is the cynical exploitation of the victims’ pictures at the end. Nevertheless, the video did have one positive impact on me and the other union staff who saw it (from the USW Health, Safety and Environment Dept.). It strengthened our commitment to see Blankenship and other such criminals behind bars.

  4. It’s a shame that a piece of trash video like this – by an outlaw coal operator who killed 29 miners – gets more than 13,000 hits in 4 days, while a video of Hazel Dickens, who stood up for coal miners her entire life, singing her brilliant song “Black Lung”, has only been seen by 581 people in 3+ months. Hazel was the antithesis of Blankenship – kind, humble, and dedicated to mine safety & health. Forget about Blankenship and check out Hazel here: Hazel Dickens Performs “Black Lung”

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