Earlier this month, documentary filmmaker Philem McAleer asked questions to filmmakers Matt Damon and John Krasinski about their new anti-fracking film "Promised Land," regarding the funding the film got from Abu Dhabi. (Fracking is the extraction of natural gas from shale rock layers within the Earth, and can make the United States energy independent.) McAleer's question, and Damon's meek answer, were edited out of the podcast that was made available on iTunes.
As reported in The Hollywood Reporter, McAleer was part of an audience of approximately 400 who attended an event promoting the film at an Apple store in SOHO, in Manhattan. After the presentation, the event moderator, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine, turned to the audience for questions. McAleer, who is the producer of Not Evil Just Wrong, a documentary that debunks Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" and the hysteria surrounding global warming, was the first person called on. McAleer, after clearly stating that he was creating a documentary about fracking called "Frack Nation,"asked Damon and Krasinski about their funding:
“It has emerged recently,” McAleer said at the event with Damon and Krasinski, “that the script -- or that the funding for Promised Land -- came from a Middle Eastern oil nation.” When Damon and Krasinski smile, McAleer says: “which you seem to find funny.” “We hear a lot of criticism about sources of right-wing funding and right-wing projects,” McAleer continues, "my question is, how does it feel to be a fully paid advocate for an oil-rich Middle Eastern government?”
Damon, rightfully so, asked if the question was part of the documentary. When McAleer said no, Damon responded that he didn't know where his funding came from:
"We got funded by Focus Features and Participant,” Damon continued. “Participant Media has a blind slate deal with these people, Imagenation, who pay for like 10 percent of all of their films. So, the first time we were aware that Imagenation was involved with our movie was when we saw the rough cut and saw their logo. And that’s, that."
It is certainly possible that production companies have deals with multiple funding partners, and not every one is known to every producer, director, actor, or writer. However, regardless of Damon's commentary, is not "that's that." When the podcast was made publicon iTunes, McAleer's question, and Damon's answer, were removed. As McAleer noted:
When the guy (moderator Peter Travers) asks for questions from the audience and then calls, 'front row, middle,’ it’s me he’s talking about,...Then in the podcast, they just airbrush me out, like Stalin used to do. It’s a very un-Apple thing to do, considering their famous 1984 TV commercial.
The video of the question and answer exchange can be seen here. It is unknown if Apple had anything to do with the editing. When asked in an email about Damon's role in the editing, McAleer's production partner and director of Not Evil Just Wrong, Ann McElhinney, responded, "I dont believe Matt Damon was involved with the censorship." But someone, somewhere in the process, was involved with this censorship.
This should give pause to anyone who believes in the First Amendment, and should send chills up the spines of every artist, filmmaker and journalist in America. When you engage in the over practice of selective editing, you engage in the promoting of an elitist class of Americans and in the denigrating of the rest of America.
When MSNBC selectively edited the Tea Party member with a gun to avoid showing he was black, that was elitists misleading Americans to move forward their own agenda. When NBC News selectively edited the George Zimmerman audio tapes to paint him as a racist, that was the elitists misleading Americans to further there racism meme. In both cases, lying by omission is as egregious as stating falsehoods.
From Damon, while disgusting, this may have been expected. Why would he, or Krasinski, want to admit that their movie - which attacks fracking, and, by extension, American energy independence - was financed by the Abu Dhabi government? As McAleer pointed out, Abu Dhabi, "...stands to make billions of dollars if fracking is banned in the United States." Admission of funding from an oil producer might put a crimp in Damon's bottom line. (Just like a One Percenter. Willing to lie to Americans to line his pockets!) This is the same guy who touted Howard Zinn as a source of "history" in "Good Will Hunting," so, honestly, what do you expect?
But for Apple, this could be damning stuff. The company has built its reputation on its relationship with its users, and providing them with honesty and quality. Obvious censorship on their platform is depressing, and dangerous - not only to their credibility, but potentially to their bottom line. No one forgets that former CEO and certifiable visionary Steve Jobs leaned to the political left, but this is more than than a political leaning. One wonders if something like this would have, could have or, worse, has happened under Jobs’ stewardship.
Damon and Krasinski should set the record straight, and provide the full, unedited podcast to the listeners. Otherwise, this is the Elitist class actively deceiving the American people. And you don't think there is a culture war in America? To learn more about McAleer's movie, Frack Nation, at http://fracknation.com.