On October 9, 2009, a crowd of over 500, many of them journalists, packed a hotel ballroom in Madison, Wisc., for a session on climate change titled "Countdown to Copenhagen." The keynote speaker was former Vice President Al Gore, whose 2006 film "An Inconvenient Truth,"  won an Academy Award and was considered a box office success.
The session was part of the Society of Environmental Journalists' 2009 Annual Conference . All sessions at SEJ annual meetings end with a period when reporters can ask questions of speakers.
The second questioner to the microphone after Gore's Oct. 9 speech was Phelim McAleer, an independent film-maker who had just finished a film, "Not Evil Just Wrong."  According to the film's website, it is critical of Gore, the idea that the world is getting warmer and humans are causing it, and proposals (championed by Gore) for reducing greenhouse emissions through laws and treaties. The film debuts on October 18, 2009.
This is the transcript of the exchange between McAleer and Gore.
After the two began repeating themselves, moderator Andy Revkin and former SEJ President Tim Wheeler asked McAleer to sit down and let the many journalists lined up to ask questions behind him have a chance in the 10 or so minutes remaining. When McAleer refused to relinquish the mic, SEJ switched to a questioner at the second mic.
McAleer violated SEJ's longstanding ground rules for question and answer sessions. Here is the memo  given to all moderators at SEJ conferences.
The memo to moderators stresses: "Discourage speech-making. Cut offenders off politely but firmly. … Your job is to conserve time, keep the discussion moving and generally make this time as useful to journalists as possible."
The memo goes on: "SEJ's most consistent complaint on evaluations over the years: Moderators allowed panelists to ramble or lost control of the point of the session. I don't think we've ever had a complaint of a moderator being too tough trying to keep things focused and moving right along."
VIDEO & AUDIO:
COVERAGE & COMMENTARY:
-- "Polar bears? Censorship? Al Gore, Phelim McAleer Joust at Enviro Journalism Conference,"  Unofficial Conference Blog of SEJ 2009 Annual Conference, October 10, 2009, by Tim Wheeler.
-- "SEJ Accused of Protecting Gore,"  The Observatory (Columbia Journalism Review), October 12, 2009, by Curtis Brainard.
-- "Al Gore And Phelim McAleer Spar Over Global Warming: Climate Change Denier Challenges Gore (with VIDEO)," Huffington Post, October 12, 2009, by Katherine Goldstein.
-- "SEJ Didn't Single Out Journo Who Questioned Al Gore,"  Dateline Earth (Investigate West), October 15, by Robert McClure (SEJ Board member),
-- "Al & Me,"  CEJournal, Center for Environmental Journalism (University of Colorado, Boulder), October 13, 2009, by Tom Yulsman.
-- "As the Planet Hits Record High Temperatures, a Falsehood-Pushing Film-Maker Tries To Shout Down Real Journalists From Asking Al Gore Questions,"  Climate Progress, October 11, 2009, by Joe Romm.
-- "I Was Waiting To Ask Al Gore a Question. SEJ Was Right To Cut off Phelim Mcaleer,"  The Peach Report, October 12, 2009, by Sara Peach.
-- "Society of Environmental Homers Protect Gore,"  Washington Examiner, October 10, 2009, by Mark Tapscott
-- "An Inconvenient Truth: Team Gore Responds,"  The Fact Checker (Washington Post), October 2007, by Michael Dobbs.
-- "Hannity Says "The Debate's Over. There's No Global Warming,"  Treehugger (Discovery), October 13, 2009, by Daniel Kessler.
-- "Unethical? Journalists who cut-off journalist Phelim McAleer's microphone broke two articles of their own SEJ Code of Ethics,"  Climate Change Fraud, October 14, 2009, by "Gore Lied".
-- "More to the story of Al Gore's Big Dodge; Environmental Journalists Accused of Not Being Journalists," MacIver Institute for Public Policy, October 13, 2009, by MacIver Institute
-- "Gore On The Grill,"  American Thinker, October 14, 2009, by Brian Sussman.
MORE ON POLAR BEARS
-- "Magic Number: a Sketchy "Fact" About Polar Bears Keeps Going...And Going... And Going,"  SEJournal, August 15, 2008, by Peter Dykstra.
-- US Geological Survey: Links to various studies on polar bear population and habitat. 
-- "More on the Polar Bear's Fate,"  Dot Earth (New York Times), March 24, 2009, by Andrew C. Revkin
-- Dr. Andrew Derocher (polar bear expert), University of Alberta,
-- "Survival and breeding of polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea in relation to sea ice," Regehr EV, Hunter CM, Caswell H, Amstrup SC, Stirling I.; Journal of Animal Ecology, 2009 Sep 14.
-- "Effects of climate change on polar bears,"  Wiig O, Aars J, Born EW., Science Progress, 2008;91 (Pt 2):151-73.
-- "Polar Bears and Climate Change,"  ActionBioscience, May 2008, by Andrew E. Derocher
-- "Sea ice-associated diet change increases the levels of chlorinated and brominated contaminants in polar bears," Mckinney MA, Peacock E, Letcher RJ.; Environmental Science & Technology, 2009 Jun 15;43(12):4334-9.