“The judge identified nine aspects of An Inconvenient Truth, nine core errors, where Al Gore either misstated the IPCC or prejudicially exaggerated what they found.” John Day is the lawyer for a British parent who sued the British Department
of Education when they tried to distribute An Inconvenient Truth to schools.
SEJ Try to Cut My Mic Off Again
Written by Phelim McAleer   
Friday, 06 November 2009 15:02
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Just off a phone call with Peter Fairley, Vice President for Membership of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ).

The SEJ is the group who, when I asked Al Gore a hard question at their annual conference, took the courageous decision to protect the multi-millionaire politician/activist/businessman and silence a journalist.

As Gore came under pressure to explain the nine significant errors in An Inconvenient Truth, the SEJ decided to cut my mic so that I could ask no more Inconvenient Questions. As it was so unusual to see an Environmental Journalist asking Al Gore a difficult question the Q&A became an internet hit with almost half a million people watching a number of different clips of the exchange.

Peter Fairley, Vice President for Membership, Society for Environmental Hournalists
So Mr. Fairley said he wanted to question me about a few details about my membership application form before the SEJ could give approval.

There were a few technical questions but then, and what I thought was the real reason for the phone call, he asked if I understood why my mic was turned off by others who claim to be journalists.

I said that it was wrong because
a) It protected a wealthy businessman/politician and silenced a journalist
b) As evidenced by internet views and media coverage there is a massive public interest in asking Al Gore and powerful people difficult questions

Mr Fairley said that he thought they had behaved appropiately but then in a classic but breath-taking SEJ response he stated:

"I don't want to debate it with you."

A classic SEJ response because when the conversation is going in a direction they don't like their pavlovian response is to shut down the conversation.

Well, luckily on this occasion, Mr Fairley did not control my microphone so he had to listen to my arguments. And I continued to make them to him on the phone. Forcefully.

Then Mr. Fairley revealed perhaps the real REAL reason for the phone call. There was concern regarding my membership application because "I might not want to follow the rules and bylaws of the SEJ".

Well, Mr. Fairley, I pledge to be a journalist and open debate and not cut it off when it is not going the way I want it to.

And Mr. Fairley I pledge to continue to ask difficult questions of the rich and powerful even if they call themselves environmentalists.

I'm not sure if that qualifies me for membership of the Society of Environmental Journalists, but if it doesn't you need to stop claiming to be a society of journalists.

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Comments (4)add comment

Paul McCauley said:

Excellent, Phelim! May I suggest you write a phone call summation and send it to the esteemed Peter Fairley. Whatever Fairley does, you have an actual acknowledgment by him of the conversation. What a pathetic little puppy he is.
November 06, 2009
Votes: -3

Greg Barthol said:

Bravo, Sir!!! Bravo!!!!
Very well stated and very well argued. Maybe get on whatever news/commentary show you wish and call him/them out on the carpet for a debate. Discredit their "journalist" organization as being nothing more than a lap dog for propaganda!!!

November 07, 2009
Votes: -4

Josh Schlossberg said:

semi-rational person
Listen, there are many of us who believe in the near unanimous science of human-caused (or at least human- augmented) climate change who are EMBARRASSED to have Gore as a spokesperson. My main beef is that for 8 years as the second most powerful person in the world, he hardly made a peep about it.

A question: even if you don't believe in human-caused climate change, are you denying the evidence that the climate is changing at all (for whatever reason)? If not, all of us should be on the same page so far as adapting to the climate changes that are inevitable, whether we stop spewing fossil fuels or not (peak oil will take care of that quite soon).

Human-caused climate change deniers would seem a whole lot more credible to me personally if they were actually doing things in their communities to adapt to resource scarcity, changing crop zones, erratic weather patterns, rising sea levels, even if they believed it was all completely natural. But I just don't see that. Which is why it is hard to do anything but ignore that point of view, as it doesn't seem genuine.

There is no more time for fake debates. There is only time for action.

In summation, I don't like Al Gore any more than you do. But I don't pretend that he created the myth of human-caused climate change. Can I ask you: to what gain?

November 27, 2009
Votes: +1

Sharon Guynup said:

I was at that conference--and at that session. Gore was not a "spokesperson"--he was speaker, of which there were dozens over a few-day period.

As for the incident that you are discussing here, you fail to note that there was a long line of people waiting at the mike--and you kept monopolizing the mike with question after question when we had a limited time and many other people waiting. Your behavior was selfish, rude, and now you portray yourself as some kind of crusader for truth against the Evil Media. Come on. And I bet you won't post my comment, either.
November 27, 2009
Votes: +4

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