Emails Refute James Cameron's Reason for Cancelling Global Warming Debate

E-mail messages obtained by NewsBusters refute claims that multi-millionaire filmmaker James Cameron cancelled a debate with prominent global warming skeptics because they weren't as famous as he is.

As NewsBusters reported Monday, a debate had been scheduled and placed on the program for last weekend's AREDay summit in Aspen, Colorado, featuring internet publisher Andrew Breitbart, Sen. James Inhofe's (R-Okla.) former communications director Marc Morano, and documentarian Ann McElhinney. 

Within the past 36 hours, event organizers have absurdly claimed that since Cameron wanted to match wits with either Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, or Inhofe, he decided to pull out of the debate when this didn't happen.

E-mail messages between the prospective participants and Cameron's representative paint an entirely different picture. 

To begin our story, Richard Greene, the man that negotiated the particulars with the skeptics, sent the following regrets to the prospective participants some time Saturday (h/t Big Hollywood):

Dear Andrew, Larry, Marc and Anne [sic],

Here is the final decision in what has been, without a doubt, a very challenging road. [...]

There will be no debate as originally envisioned and discussed . . . for now. Instead, AREDAY and I offer the three of you (or two or even just one) the FULL platform - 5:30 - 7:00 pm Paepke Auditorium on The Aspen Institute campus . . .with FULL video and audio rights - to share "the other side" of the climate change and energy debate with the assembled notable in the environmental community. [...]

James Cameron will not participate. Again, this is my fault and my responsibility. Way back in April James authorized me to set up a debate with either Glenn Beck or Senator Inhofe. As Matt Dempsey will tell you, we tried very hard to get something done for Earth Day and then continued to talk.

I communicated that the "denier" team was representing and indirectly chosen by Sen. Inhofe's office (as Matt had 100% endorsed Marc for that role) but it somehow, given James' travel, literally to Siberia, was not clear that Sen. Inhofe or someone of his public stature would not be involved. As a result, despite James' total willingness to engage, he has been universally advised to wait for the time that Senator Inhofe or Governor Palin or Glenn Beck are willing and able to engage in this important debate. [...]

Best,
Richard Greene

For those unable to read through the lines, this was a classic CYA letter, although the A being covered wasn't necessarily apparent.

For some background, the "Larry" in the greeting is Larry Solov, Breitbart's business partner.

As for Greene, according to his biography at the Huffington Post:

Richard Greene is an attorney, political and communication strategist, author of the Prentice Hall coffee table book, "Words That Shook The World: 100 Years of Unforgettable Speeches and Events" and Host of "Hollywood CLOUT!" on Air America Radio (Monday - Friday at 6 - 8 pm Pacific/9 - 11 pm Eastern, www.AirAmerica.com and on the air in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Detroit, Seattle, Santa Fe and elsewhere). He is also the Founder of a 501(c)(3) corporation that runs high school competitions to find and cultivate the next generation of great speakers and leaders in America. (www.WordsThatShookTheWorld.com).

Greene has recently been collaborating with Cameron on Words That Shook The World events as reported by Bing Community and pictured at DayLife.com.

With that as pretext, the following e-mail correspondence chronicles recent negotiations concerning debate rules and particulars (e-mail addresses scrubbed for privacy):

In a message dated 8/16/2010 11:32:52 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, morano@xxxx.com writes:

Hi Richard,

Please give us your proposal for the format and rules of the proposed debate.

The bios and press release are currently unacceptable as proposed.

I have copied Andrew Breitbart's business partner Larry Solov on this email to bring Breitbart directly into the loop.

Let's get this squared away.

Thanks

Marc

Greene quickly responded:

From: RHGreene@xxxx.com
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2010 3:36 PM
To: morano@xxxx.com; larry@xxxx.com; annmcelhinney@xxxx.com
Cc: info@areday.net; sally.ranney@xxxx.com
Subject: Aspen Debate - Important Details

Dear Marc, Andrew/Larry and Anne,

Very much looking forward to our Sunday debate.

Here are the important details as of this moment.

Richard

1. Press Release

In order for us to have press we need to get this out asap. Please get me, by 4:30 pm Eastern, the following:

a) Any changes you need to YOUR bios. We will include everyone in the final release.

b) A written sign off on the press release title and copy. See below for the current iteration that has attempted to incorporate Marc's feedback.

Notice the urgency: "In order for us to have press we need to get this out asap." Sounds like a done deal, doesn't it?

As such, on Monday, August 16, this debate was all a go with some particulars left to be ironed out. Greene included the format of the encounter:

Introductory

5:30 - 5:31 Welcome by Moderator

5:31 - 5:40 Introduction of "James Cameron Team" members and a 2 minute per member "Opening Statement"

6:40 - 5:49 Introduction of "Andrew Breitbart Team" members and a 2 minute per member "Opening Statement"

B. The 10 Issues

5:49 - 6:34 Moderator will raise, one by one, a total of 10 issues and will toss each issue to one team for a 2 minute response, and then the other team for a 2 minute rebuttal. Each team will decide, on their own, the member or members that will use the 2 minute timeT slot. Time: :30 second intro of the issue, 4 minute debate time per issue x 10 = 45 minutes, total.

C. Questions from the Audience

6:34 - 6: 54 Questions from the Audience. Each side will choose the people to ask questions in alternating fashion. The moderator will not make these choices.

D. Closing Statements

6:54 - 7:00 Each side will get 3 minutes, total, for closing statements, to be distributed as one minute per member or 3 minutes for one member or however the side decides.

Next, he added a press release:

James Cameron vs. Andrew Breitbart

"The Great Climate Debate" at AREDAY Conference in Aspen

Looming man-made crisis or a manufactured crisis?

Sunday, August 22

Aspen, COLO... AVATAR Director and Producer James Cameron will face conservative pundit Andrew Breitbart in what is being called "The Great Climate Debate," on Sunday, August 22, at 5:30 - 7:00 pm in Aspen, Colorado, as the culmination of the American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) Summit. Cameron and Breitbart will each be joined by climate and energy experts and advocates and will address questions of whether climate change is real, a horrific threat to humanity and, more specifically, whether human caused carbon emissions are responsible for extreme weather around the world, acidification of the oceans, the melting of the polar ice caps and glaciers and other environmental phenomena.

The panelists for the debate will be: (please edit your blurb)

1. James Cameron, Underwater explorer, having spent over 3,000 hours, in submersibles and scuba diving, observing the devastation of the oceans first hand. Writer and Director of the environmentally themed film, AVATAR.

2. Dr. Julienne Stroeve, Research Scientist for The National Snow and Ice Data Center, specializing in remote sensing of snow and ice in the visible, infrared, and microwave wavelengths. Personally conducted research on Kangerlussuaq Glacier in Greenland and presented her findings and research at the UNESCO international experts meeting in Monaco and many other forums and featured on The Discovery Channel and the History Channel documentary "Underwater Universe"

Dr. Graciela Chichilnisky is a world renown economist and mathematician and the author of the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol that became international law in 2005. She also created the concept of Basic Needs voted by 153 nations at the 1993 Earth Summit to be the cornerstone of Sustainable Development, and in 1996 created the formal theory of Sustainable Development that is used worldwide.

The "Climate Change is Not Real and/or Not Significantly Man Made and and/or Not A Significant Threat to Humanity" Side:

1. Marc Merano [sic], Former Communications Director for Senator James Inhofe, Executive Editor, "Climate Depot", a website dedicated to challenging the "Climate Con".

2. Ann McElhinney, Irish Journalist, Writer, Producer of Documentary Film attacking Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth", "Not Evil - Just Wrong". Most popular speaker (after Limbaugh and Ann Coulter) during 2010 CPAC Convention where she told James Cameron to grow-up, accusing the film Avatar of being an "anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-mining celebrity guest.

3. Andrew Breitbart - Climate Change denier, Conservative blogger (www.Breitbart.com), Columnist for The Washington Times, author, "Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon", frequent Fox News Channel commentator and recipient of the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award during the 2010 CPAC conference in Washington, D.C., Keynote speaker at the First National Tea Party Convention in 2010 and the journalist who released the edited videotape of Shirley Sherrod's allegedly racist speech.

Notice some of the wording in the bios was less than flattering. For instance, Morano's name was misspelled, McElhinney was quoted as bashing one of the featured guests, and Breitbart was credited for releasing the Shirley Sherrod tape.

Not very gracious, wouldn't you agree?  

On the other hand, both "captains" had clearly chosen their teams, and submitted bios to Greene. As he forwarded this proposed press release to Breitbart et al, isn't it safe to assume Cameron and his participants were also kept in the loop?

Greene was, after all, acting as the coordinator for this event. Wouldn't it have been in keeping for him to apprise Cameron and Company of how this was going, and get their acceptance of the proposed press release?

In fact, Greene later commented about how he was waiting on Cameron to approve the wording.

As such, how is it possible that Breitbart, Sovol, Morano, and McElhinney knew on Monday who they'd be facing in this debate, but Cameron - who was having this set up by one of his representatives - didn't?

Regardless, Morano quickly responded:

In a message dated 8/16/2010 2:27:53 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, morano@xxxx.com writes:

For the title, let's delete "looming."

How about: Global Warming: A man-made crisis or a manufactured crisis?

My bio as follows:

1.Marc Morano, Senior Aide to Senator James Inhofe and Climate Researcher for Senate Environment & Public Works Committee. Currently Executive Editor, For "Climate Depot", a website dedicated to exposing the manufactured "Climate Con".

We would also like to have our own film crew present to tape the proceedings.

As for debate rules, my only further suggestion would be not to be held to 10 points. If a topic is getting hot and showing great energy, let's stick with it for another round instead of changing the subject. This of course would be at your discretion. Even if we only get to 7 or 8 questions, we would end up having better back and forth.

I am not ready to sign off on press release yet.

Greene responded the next day:

From: RHGreene@xxxx.com
Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 8:51 AM
To: morano@xxxx.com
Cc: info@areday.net; RHGreene@xxxx.com
Subject: Re: Aspen Debate - Important Details

Hi Marc,

I agree about keeping things more open ended.

A light went off when I received Ann's revisions relative to the scope of the debate. Would like to suggest that, to make the debate even more relevant to the media and the country . . . and to keep it even further away from wonky, statistical, boring banter . . . that we focus mainly on the economic issues that are relevant to the Mid Term Elections, i.e., whether adopting "alarmist" climate change legislation will destroy jobs and the economy, the recent Harry Reid Senate energy bill, the $20 Billion Fund from BP and whether we should raise the cap on oil company liability (the Menedez Bill), and, also, a solution oriented discussion on how we deal with energy in the future.

I'm going to assume that this is also right up your alley. Please submit some questions/issues on these areas that I can pose to the James Cameron side.

Thanks.

Pretty strange, don't you think? This was supposed to be a debate about global warming, and suddenly the coordinator wanted to talk about the midterm elections, Reid's energy bill, BP, and raising the cap on oil company liability.

Apparently confused by this change in subject matter, Morano promptly responded:

From: Marc Morano-ClimateDepot.com [mailto:Morano@xxxx.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 9:27 AM
To: 'RHGreene@xxxx.com'
Cc: 'info@areday.net'
Subject: RE: Aspen Debate - Important Details

Hi Richard,

NOOOO!!!!

Please not a wonky energy debate. The core of the debate should be about climate science, and the impacts of warming on the world's poor and the impacts of alleged solutions to world's poor. Please no gulf oil spill or energy bill. BORING!

Let's keep this to global warming with 25% or less devoted to energy, BP, etc!

No policy debate! Let's debate the state of global warming science in 2010!!!
Thanks

Marc

After a phone discussion with Greene, Morano sent the following:

In a message dated 8/17/2010 8:36:29 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Morano@xxxx.com writes:

Hi Richard,

After our phone call, my team is fine with this change in debate format. Let's go ahead and finalize this and as the energy debate you suggest.

Can we get out press release announcing this asap? We are confirmed for the changes you suggest.

Thanks

Marc

The following day, Greene responded with an updated press release not much different than the prior one:

From: RHGreene@xxxx.com
Date: Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 5:45 PM
Subject: Hi Marc - Current Press Release
To: Morano@xxxx.com
Cc: info@areday.net, annmcelhinney@xxxx.com

Hi.

We're just waiting for James to land from Siberia to approve the language. Here's the current press release.

Richard

So, on Wednesday, Greene was just waiting for Cameron to approve the language in the press release. Nothing at all about him approving the participants.

The following day, Morano received the following from Greene:

From: rhgreene@xxxx.com [mailto:rhgreene@xxxx.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2010 3:44 PM
To: morano@XXXX.COM
Subject: Re: Please approve - changes integrated

Assuming we all agree on the video issue we're good to go. Joe Romm may even be there! : )

Hmmm. On Thursday at 3:44 in the afternoon, "we're good to go."

Yet, on Friday, after phone discussions with Solov the previous evening and despite the two sides appearing close to finalizing the deal, Greene again changed course:

On Aug 20, 2010, at 4:56 AM, RHGreene@xxxx.com wrote:

Hi Larry,

Nice to talk with you last night. James has rejected the idea of NOT having video. He wants video.

We are discussing another idea that I'd like to have you vet with Andrew which I think may even be better for everyone's reputation, including Andrew's, than the debate we have planned.

What do you two think of an intelligent "Roundtable" where all 6 sit around with a glass of wine or coffee and have a serious conversation in order to try to find some common , ground. Instead of spinning around and around in an adversarial way with both parties claiming "victory", what about honoring all the participants as "Thought Leaders", fully listening to their perspectives and showing the American people that both Andrew Breitbart and James Cameron, in their own way and from an authentic perspective, really care about their country. It would even allow Marc Merano [sic] to be more understood and to be considered as such.

It's an easy adjustment. We all sit around and everyone gets their 2 minutes to share their perspective but the goal is to try to come to some joint way to move forward on these issues rather than a Gladiator approach trying to kill the other side.

Thoughts?

Richard

A keen eye should detect mischief afoot. First of all, roughly 60 hours before showtime, the coordinator proposed completely changing the format. 

Suddenly, reputations are of a concern "including Andrew's."  Greene wants to "[honor] all the participants as 'Thought Leaders'" and "[show] the American people that both Andrew Breitbart and James Cameron, in their own way and from an authentic perspective, really care about their country."

So much for debate. Would this end with the participants singing "Kumbaya?"

And what about this insult to Morano, "It would even allow Marc Merano [sic] to be more understood and to be considered as such."

For those that have seen Morano speak either in person or on video - I've witnessed both - he's quite a commanding and effective orator that always makes his positions both interesting and understandable.

Surpised by this correspondence, Solov replied three times in the next hour:

On Aug 20, 2010, at 7:33 AM, Laurence Solov wrote:

Richard -

I have asked our "team" and will get back to you ASAP.

I assume from your response/proposal that we can film it, too, but please correct me if that is not a correct assumption.

Larry Solov

On Aug 20, 2010, at 7:54 AM, Laurence Solov wrote:

Also, is it moderated? By whom? Is there Q&A from audience? Is it each person gets 2 minutes to speak, then talk back and forth more free form, or questions asked by a moderator? How long?

Larry Solov
From: Laurence Solov

Date: August 20, 2010 8:29:42 AM PDT

To: RHGreene@xxxx.com

Cc: Breitbart Andrew

Subject: Re: James Cameron and Video/Roundtable

Richard -

I've talked to our "team." Please call me ASAP. This is workable if we just nail down a few specifics - see my questions below. But, to make it happen, we need to "finalize" this by, say, noon PST. People have planes to catch, videographers to arrange, and the press release needs to incorporate the language changes we gave you and to get out, Chardonnay or Pinot or maybe a nice Bordeaux, etc.

I do not have a phone for you in Aspen. So, please call as soon as you get this.

Thanks.

Larry Solov

The "see my questions below" referred to Solov's previous message wherein he asked:

Also, is it moderated? By whom? Is there Q&A from audience? Is it each person gets 2 minutes to speak, then talk back and forth more free form, or questions asked by a moderator? How long?

Readers should bear in mind that it was now late Friday morning on the East Coast, and folks scheduled to get on airplanes in less than 24 hours still didn't know whether this event was going to take place.

Sensing the growing urgency, Solov had several telephone conversations with Greene to finalize the particulars so that he could instruct the participants to head to Aspen.

By late Friday evening his time - Solov is based in the Los Angeles area - he had ironed out the final details with Greene, and sent the following e-mail message to confirm everything:

From: Laurence Solov
Date: Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 10:08 PM

Subject: Aspen Debate
To: RHGreene@xxxx.com
Cc: Breitbart Andrew , Ann Mcelhinney , phelim mcaleer , Marc Morano

Richard:

You have revised your proposal to the following:

1. A private debate - no video or audio, no press, not open to the public (not even the conference organizers would be allowed tape it);

A. Introductory
5:30 - 5:31 Welcome by Moderator
5:31 - 5:40 Introduction of "James Cameron Team" members and a 2 minute per member "Opening Statement"
6:40 - 5:49 Introduction of "Andrew Breitbart Team" members and a 2 minute per member "Opening Statement"

B. The 10 Issues
5:49 - 6:34 Moderator will raise, one by one, a total of 10 issues and will toss each issue to one team for a 2 minute response, and then the other team for a 2 minute rebuttal. Each team will decide, on their own, the member or members that will use the 2 minute timeT slot. Time: :30 second intro of the issue, 4 minute debate time per issue x 10 = 45 minutes, total.

(Richard - I will add, based on our previous conversation, that you told me you intend to provide the questions before the debate, no later than, say, 5:00 pm Saturday the 21st - Aspen time)

C. Questions from the Audience
6:34 - 6: 54 Questions from the Audience. Each side will choose the people to ask questions in alternating fashion. The moderator will not make these choices.

D. Closing Statements
6:54 - 7:00 Each side will get 3 minutes, total, for closing statements, to be distributed as one minute per member or 3 minutes for one member or however the side decides.

(or, the more interactive format Marc suggested)

2. Romm to replace Stroeve;

3. A 20 - 30 minute exclusive interview by our side of Mr. Cameron that can be videotaped.

Without rehashing the long history of trying to put this together, Andrew, Ann and Marc are disappointed that they were originally told they would be permitted to video a public debate, but are now being told that a condition of going forward is that the debate be private and that no video or audio will be permitted. Having said that, they will accept the invitation, and look forward to the event and the interview.

Larry Solov

At this point, Solov informed Morano and McElhinney that the debate was a go, and the former got on a plane heading to Colorado only to find out upon landing a few hours later the debate had been cancelled.

On Monday evening, Environment & Energy News reported that someone involved in this event blamed the debate's cancellation on the participants (subscription required):

But Chip Comins, founder and executive producer of the event, said the details of the debate had never been confirmed and accused Morano of distorting the truth.

Organizers had considered holding a climate debate pitting Cameron against high-profile foes like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, and FOX News hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, Comins said.

"Morano is not at James Cameron's level to debate, and that's why that didn't happen," Comins said. "Cameron should be debating someone who is similar to his stature in our society."

Imagine that. After weeks of negotiations, it was decided that Breitbart, Morano, and McElhinney were not up to Cameron's stature.

Then why did Greene go through this tedious process with the prospective participants - including numerous e-mail messages and phone calls - if this were the case? Shouldn't that decision have been made quite some time ago?

According to Morano, Greene had initially contacted Inhofe's office hoping the Senator would be interested in debating Cameron. As this was not going to work, Greene was referred to Morano.

At that point, Morano recommended Breitbart and McElhinney as his debate partners, and the negotiations began. In his view, there was never any pushback from Greene after this point about Cameron wanting to match wits with personalities other than those already on the table.

Instead, as he has written at Climate Depot, Morano was told by event organizers that once Climate Progress's Joe Romm got involved in the discussion, he convinced Greene that having Cameron debate Morano would be a big mistake. 

As Romm got absolutely demolished by Morano in a debate last April, we can understand why he'd prefer nobody else on his side go up against him.

With this in mind, Greene's job appears to have first been to continually change the format of the debate while making more and more absurd demands hoping Breitbart et al would give up and quit.

When this didn't happen, the fallback was a preposterous cover story that the participants just weren't up to Cameron's high-standing in the society.

What a crock!

Of course, all of this points to the continued obfuscation concerning this issue by climate alarmists. 

For years, folks like Nobel Laureate Al Gore, his minions James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Romm have been trying to convince the public the global warming debate is over.

At the same time, climate realists nee skeptics have been arguing the debate hasn't yet begun because those on the other side refuse to do so.

This latest episode with Cameron et al acts to further prove this, for in the end there likely never was going to be a debate at AREDay in Aspen.

As Romm demonstrated last April, his side looks foolish when their dogma is challenged by folks that aren't members of the choir.

As a result, the only possible victory for the alarmists in such encounters is for them simply not to happen.

*****Update: As a post facto aside, when Morano got to Aspen, he was informed that he could still speak to the audience for the 90 minutes the debate was scheduled for. This is what happened in his words:

My presentation at Aspen American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) summit on Sunday August 22, 2010 at 5:30 was met by a rude moderator and hostile audience. [...]

My PowerPoint presentation was repeatedly interrupted by ARDAY [sic] moderator Richard Greene and the audience was not receptive to me continuing my presentation. Instead, the bulk of my presentation turned into a disjointed moderator and audience rant session. I attempted several times to return to my presentation, but the crowd and moderator refused to cooperate and seemed completely disinterested.

One participant confused carbon dioxide with carbon monoxide. She suggested I kill himself by driving my car into my garage and then close the doors with the engine running. I twice attempted to explain to the ARDAY [sic] conference participant that there was a difference between carbon dioxide -- a harmless trace essential gas we exhale from our mouth-- and toxic carbon monoxide, but to no avail. I sadly shook my head and told the audience: "Wow, what a warm welcome I have gotten here."

In the end, the ARDAY's [sic] offer of 90 minutes for me to present the skeptical view of man-made global warming after Cameron's debate cancellation revealed itself to be essentially disingenuous.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.