CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Adroit, the company behind the Don Blankenship-financed documentary about the 2010 tragedy at the Upper Big Branch mine, said it did not deceive people interviewed for the film.
In a statement released to media members Wednesday, Adroit defended “Upper Big Branch — Never Again” and the interviews that have been criticized by some of those appearing in the documentary. That includes U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who was upset that he was never told the documentary was connected with Blankenship.
Adroit released the following statement:
“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides for the freedom of the press and freedom of speech for individuals and companies. The Upper Big Branch mine disaster is a matter of public concern. Every person is entitled under the First Amendment to have an opinion and discuss matters of public concern, including Adroit Films and Don Blankenship.
The purpose behind the “Upper Big Branch – Never Again” documentary is to review forensic evidence from the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster that occurred on April 5, 2010. The film seeks to start a public discussion about the need for cooperation among the mining industry, government and mining experts to improve mining safety. Analyzing forensic evidence from tragedies like the explosion at Upper Big Branch and adopting innovations and technology developed by coal companies could bring improvements to mine safety. Don Blankenship is concerned that improvements in mine safety will not be made as long as the geological characteristics of mines and mine disasters are not fully investigated.
Adroit Films did not deceive or intend to deceive any interview subject about the film or its participants. Interview subjects were asked to comment on mine safety and mine disasters. Each signed a release to agree to be interviewed for the film which was identified in the release as being about the Upper Big Branch mine. Information about Adroit Films and its projects is on its publicly accessible website, including information about a recent project produced for Don Blankenship.
The purpose of this project was to start a public discussion about coal mining and mine safety. Thank you for the opportunity to address your questions.”