Hollywood often makes heroes out of undeserving people in order to further their unenlightened agenda. Ten years ago, it was “Erin Brockovich” that received Tinseltown’s royal treatment. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (who would later deify Che Guevera in “Che”), the film starred another leftist, Julia Roberts, who won the Academy Award for this propaganda. We now find out that the entire story was a hoax and that Brockovich has gone on to destroy even bigger targets on her fictitious crusade.
For those of you who missed this sterling piece of modern cinema, Brockovich (with virtually no qualifications) single-handedly discovers that the town of Hinkley, California, has been exposed to dangerous chemicals that cause cancer. She hooks up with a heroic personal injury attorney, Ed Masry, and they manage to get PG & E, a major utility company, to settle for $333 million and thereby line their own pockets quite nicely, thank you. It turns out, however, that a recent state survey found that the frequency of cancer cases in the Hinkley area for the period of 1996-2008 was actually 12.5% below the state average. Brockovich neither called PG & E to return the falsely-extorted money nor did she return to Hinkley to calm the residents who still have irrational fears stirred up by her antics. She has been too busy destroying other communities.
Brockovich next took aim at Beverly Hills (yes, that one), which for ages has famously had oil wells on its high school campus. She snuck onto the campus at night to gin up accusations that caused years of legal battles. The lawsuit was eventually thrown out in a summary judgment, forcing Erin and her merry band of town wreckers to pony up $450,000 to cover Beverly Hills’ legal fees.
All these shenanigans are chronicled in the new book by Norma Zager, Erin Brockovich and the Beverly Hills Greenscam. Ms. Zager happened to be a witness to this entire sordid affair as editor of the local newspaper, the Beverly Hills Courier.
Zager presents a thorough history and analysis of the events that disrupted an entire community. Residents’ lives were upended as they confronted fears similar to those churned up in Hinkley. Parents were misled into thinking that sending their children to one of the most respected public high schools in the United States represented a health risk, and many of them decided to relocate or send their kids to private school. The all-consuming lawsuit caused the resignation of both the Superintendent of Schools and the City Manager, neither of whom wanted to spend their career focused on a lawsuit that motivated residents to hysterical fits. They felt that it was better to move on than let their careers be trampled by the Brockovich/Masry machine.