‘Crude’ Outtakes Made Public; What an Opportunity for ’60 Minutes’

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York has just issued an order (.pdf file) making outtakes from the documentary-style film, “Crude,” available to the public. 

Footage from Joe Berlinger’s movie has been available to the attorneys involved in the contingency-fee litigation against Chevron for environmental damage in Ecuador. Transcripts from the outtakes have also been entered into the court record, documenting the  manipulation of the judicial process by Steven Donziger, the lead U.S. trial lawyer, and the U.S. and Ecuadorian legal team/activists. (Shopfloor, “‘Crude’ Footage Reveals Lies Behind Trial Lawyers’ Suit Against Chevron.”)

However explosive, the transcripts still fail to capture the full disdain for the truth shown by the players behind the litigation and PR campaign against Chevron.  Thanks to Judge Kaplan’s Oct. 7 order, now everyone can see the video that shows the plaintiff’s team scheming and swearing and orchestrating the shakedown against the company. From the order:

Reporters with Thomson Reuters and with The American Lawyer magazine and ALM Media have requested copies to a total of approximately ten compact disks filed as Exhibit A to a declaration of Kristen Hendricks [DI 14 -10 MC 0002]; Exhibits A and D to another declaration of Ms. Hendricks [DI41 – 10 MC 0002]; and Exhibits 1 and 2 to the declaration of Paul E. Dans [DI 40-10 MC 0002]. The parties have no objection to the requests.

Accordingly, the Clerk shall provide copies of these disks to the requesters and any member of the public who requests copies of the same disks upon payment of the reasonable cost of duplication and blank media.

60 Minutes' segment on Chevron in Ecuador failed to report full story.We were disappointed to see that “60 Minutes” was not one of the requesters asking for copies of the videos. The CBS news-entertainment magazine delivered a miserably one-sided report on the litigation in May 2009, “Amazon Crude,” that accepted as fact the trial lawyers’ thesis: Chevron is a corporate monster that does not care that its predecessor, Texaco, polluted Ecuador’s Amazon with no regard for the native people, so damn right they should pay up.

Along with “Crude” and William Langewiesche’s evocative story-telling in Vanity Fair, “Jungle Law,” the “60 Minutes” piece represented one of the most powerful PR weapons in the U.S. trial lawyers’ litigation war against Chevron. Of course, as this Columbia Journalism Review analysis concluded, “How 60 Minutes Missed on Chevron,” the report fell short on facts and relied instead of innuendo.

Judge Kaplan’s order provides “60 Minutes”  a great opportunity for more serious journalism in the form of a powerful follow-up segment, recounting how their producers and reporter Scott Pelley gave too much credence to the trial lawyers’ claims, failed to appreciate the legitimacy of Chevron’s arguments, and ultimately produced an unfair and inaccurate account of the litigation.

It’s a heck of story: Foul-mouthed New York trial lawyer and supposedly heroic activists work with left-wing Ecuadorian government to corrupt the courts and shake down a U.S. company for billions of dollars.

“60 Minutes,” you already have all the earlier footage shot in Ecuador. Now the damning, explosive outtakes from “Crude” are available just for the price of copying the files onto DVDs.

What a great opportunity for serious journalism.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • […] magazine’s sister publication, The American Lawyer, obtained copies of the outtakes from the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, after Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered their […]

  • Jim says:

    Lucy makes her opinion obvious in her post. She states “Maybe I’ll start to listen to Chevron’s side of the story when they stop complaining and…” That is all I need to read of her opinion. She admits that she won’t even read or consider Chevrons defence. People like Lucy have no right to judge Chevron unless she is willing to objectively look at evidence by all parties and people like her shouldn’t be allowed to even vote in the USA because they aren’t capable of being unbiased.
    If you look at the facts of this lawsuit, unlike what Lucy wrote, you will find that Chevron did clean up any mess they left behind and spent many millions in doing so in good faith even though they weren’t the ones running the show down in Ecuador. in fact they cleaned up a lot of the mess that was present after they had already left in a move of good faith. The national company that ran operations and received most of the profits continues to pollute this area in an irresponsible way to this day with impunity. Their record of oil spills and lost profits speaks for itself. While they continue to pollute the exact area of contention where Texaco once operated back in the early 1990’s there is no expectation or national outcry of their abuses? They have spills in that area more than once a day. While Texaco wouldn’t tolerate a deplorable record like that (all the lost revenue due to oil spills may be motivation as well as their global reputation being at stake)
    To the Lucy’s of the world, please consider looking at the evidence and find the truth of what is happening in many poor countries around the world. If you truly were concerned about the well being of the poor in or other areas you must be able to see the forest through the trees. You have a corrupt nationalized company destroying the rainforest right now, nevermind 20 or 40 years ago. You are giving the corrupt Ecuadorian politicians a free pass to pollute. The Lucy’s of the world are actually hurting the poor local people in their blind ignorant position of assuming that a nationalized oil giant would never shirk their own responsibilities. How many people must die?

  • […] Shopfloor.org post on the subject, “‘Crude’ Outtakes Made Public; What an Opportunity for ’60 Minutes’.” VN:F [1.9.4_1102]please wait…Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast) Crude, Ecuador, fair use, […]

  • Carter Wood says:

    Donziger is telling a “greater truth,” eh? That sounds like an excuse for, uh, “lying.” And it’s funny to read complaints about personal attacks. Ad hominem is the heart and soul of the Donziger/Karen Hinton PR strategy.

    You know what could help remove the veils, clarify the debate? Wide distribution of the video outtakes from “Crude.”

  • lucy says:

    Personal attacks against Mr. Donzinger and other activists only obscure the larger point that Chevron continues to evade taking ANY responsibility while the humanitarian crisis worsens. The very real suffering of the Ecuadorian people is hardly the construct of the American lawyers who are funding the lawsuit. Chevron has done nothing to offer relief to local residents. Are we suppose to admire that? A company worth billions stands on the sidelines in their plush executive offices, drinking their clean filtered water, whining about how they are being treated unfairly. Seriously? Maybe I’ll start to listen to Chevron’s side of the story when they stop complaining and set an example of good corporate behavior and do what’s morally right: help those in need. Check out http://www.thechevronpit.blogspot.com.

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