Varney Strikes Back, Highlights Anti-Fracking Flaws

Don’t falsely accuse people who host their own TV shows. Anti-fracking activist and filmmaker Josh Fox was kicked off Varney & Co. Monday, June 8 after he accused host Stuart Varney of lying.

Fox, the producer and director of the factually-challenged Gasland documentaries, criticized Varney’s opposition to fracking. Fox was the target of today’s Varney segment with filmmaker Phelim McAleer.

Even though government regulators said fracking had no negative impact on drinking water, McAleer said this “won’t stop” opponents of the practice. He argued many anti-fracking activist hold a “religious faith” against this form drilling.

McAleer, maker of the documentary FrackNation, appeared on Varney & Co. on June 10, to discuss a new report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency’s report said that hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, posed no threat to drinking water safety. He said that “fracking doesn't cause water contamination. It never did.”

“The EPA has spoken what people in these areas [where fracking is used] knew all along: Fracking does not contaminate the water supply,” McAleer added.

On the broadcast June 8, Varney challenged Fox’s claim that fracking led to flammable tap water by increasing methane content. He claimed to have personally confirmed this phenomenon at a Pennsylvania property he owned before fracking ever began in the area. Fox countered that Varney was “absolutely wrong” and said, “I do believe you are lying right now.”

Varney then promptly ended the segment. “The interview is over, young man,” Varney said. “The interview is over. I am not lying. I did it myself. Thank you, goodbye.” Fox attempted to continue arguing, saying that Varney was “clearly obfuscating the truth.”

Later in the day, Fox appeared on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes and complained about Varney’s “tirade of bombast about how great fracking was.” He continued that Fox Business “defending” the EPA was evidence that the agency had “royally screwed up” in its fracking report.

Fox Business’s Neil Cavuto and Judge Andrew Napolitano on the June 9 broadcast of Varney & Co. “I think you did the right thing because all bets are off when he called you a liar,” Cavuto told Varney.

“I thought it was great television,” Napolitano said. “Look at all of the free publicity you’re getting about it.”

In his 2010 Gasland documentary, Fox spoke with people in Colorado who blamed gas drilling for their flammable tap water. However, an investigation found this wasn’t related to fracking at all. The well water had been drilled into a pocket of methane, according to Popular Mechanics. Filmmaker Phelim McAleer also confronted Fox with evidence that water has been flammable in parts of New York and Pennsylvania for decades.

Varney & Co. Stuart Varney Phelim McAleer Josh Fox