Don Blankenship Says Mine Tragedy That Killed 29 Isn’t His Fault (HBO)

Don Blankenship Says Mine Tragedy That Killed 29 Isn’t His Fault (HBO)

On April 5, 2010, the Upper Big Branch coal mine— known as UBB to locals in Montcoal, West Virginia— collapsed after an explosion. 29 of the 31 miners on site were killed. It was the worst mining disaster in 40 years. In 2015, Don Blankenship, CEO of the company
that owned the mine, Massey Energy, became the first top executive in history to
be sentenced to prison for safety violations. Just a few weeks ago, Blankenship walked out of a halfway house
after serving his one-year sentence. He immediately launched a Tweet storm— blasting regulators, politicians,
and the government for his prison time, and filed an appeal for vindication
to the U.S. Supreme Court. Then, the coal baron sat down with VICE News. — I’d like you to tell me your
favorite nickname given to you— I’m trying to keep track of them. — Yes. Well, “the Dark Lord of Coal,” right? — That seems to be the one that stuck— “the Dark Lord of Coal.” Huh. That’s a pretty good one. When did you get out, by the way? — May 10th. — May 10th? What’s it been like? — Well, it’s been an adjustment, you know? You get a year behind, it’s hard to catch up. — Yeah. — I’ve been working on catching up and, you know, connecting to people that were supportive, and spending a lot of time doing it. — Let’s start on that day, on the day of the explosion. When you find out 29 of your guys died, what’s going through your head at this point? — It’s the worst thing that’s happened in my lifetime. There’s no way to really describe it. — The families are immediately hostile to you, correct? — Yes, they’re hostile to probably
all the management at the time. — We can see you’re kind-of shaking right now. What’s going through you? — It’s just too much to say. I miss my family. This man has no remorse at all. He never approached none of us. He never told us he was sorry for what happened. And he knows he could’ve done the right thing— all he had to do was make one of them 40 phone calls a day he called checking on production to say shut it down and fix everything. But he refused to do it. — Do you think that’s fair? — Well, I mean, I think it’s normal. I don’t think you can expect the situation
to be fair in regard to families or friends. You expect fairness out of the media, or fairness out of those that are observing it, versus involved in it. — So the federal government, in their report, say this is, you know, your fault. This is because of safety violations. — If you read the text of the report, and you get back in the body of it, you’ll see that they say the explosion
might have begun with natural gas. Actually— — “Might” have begun. — Yeah.
— Yeah. — But we know it began with natural gas, because no one’s ever seen that much natural gas come out of a mine following an explosion. It’s actually ignorant, to say that you can have
3.5-million cubic feet of natural gas come out of a coal mine after an explosion and that natural gas wasn’t
the energy source for the explosion. — You know, it’s funny though, because the government says that it was
not a natural gas explosion. Is there no scientific evidence at all
to support their case, and how do they manage these reams
of documents with no evidence? — I can’t explain to you why they do it, or how they get by with. I’m telling you without any doubt whatsoever, this was a natural gas explosion. — How many violations did you rack up in your tenure? — I don’t know how many I racked up in my tenure, but other coal companies racked up more. — But you racked up a lot. — Let’s be clear about something, because this is something that y’all like to talk about. Violations that have been incurred and
been corrected don’t cause explosions— this is about the fact that
the mine blew up because of natural gas. — When one looks at this from the outside
and you look at thousands of violations, you look at 29 dead miners and you say, “Well, that’s… something’s there,” right? — UBB mine had the average number of violations that the 30 or so longwall mines
in the United States have. Violation count in the mining business
is not indicative of the safety. You get violations for… a crack in the roof that occurs for water
that gets in the mine during hard rains— all kinds of reasons you get violations. — What is it like for you, being widely disliked, and you said that people
accuse you of having blood on your hands? — I can bear it, and come on your program, and go anywhere I want to say and tell
the truth because I know I’m innocent. I know who I am. Prior to getting into battles with the union, I was sort-of the local hero. You know, I was top of the class in high school, I was a baseball player in the coal field leagues, I lived in the area. But when you got into the battle with the union, they blackened me. And I think these people that will lie
about what happened at UBB, you know, they’re not going to like a truth teller. In addition to that, they were able to take a
political advocate out of the system. I was probably the major player in converting West Virginia
from a blue state to a red state. — You referred to yourself as a political prisoner. — Yes. — Why? — I think when the President of the United States declares you guilty before an investigation, and then the former Governor, now Senator from
West Virginia says you got blood on your hands, that’s pretty political. — You’re out of the game. You’re out of the coal mining business? — Yes. — Why? — Well, I’ve been in prison for a year
and I’m on probation. — I think that you probably have enough contacts and probably have enough money in your back pocket that you could get back into it if you wanted to. — Probably could. But right now, my focus is to bring attention to the truth. — Did you have any thoughts when you were in prison— you had a year in prison, did anything change? — I came out— went in and came out a lot more knowledgeable
of how corrupt the system is. It’s frightening. I knew it from my personal experience, as I went through the trial and went to prison. But the guys I’ve met in there, so many of them are the victims of
the government charging people because of a tragedy, so to speak, you know, whether it’s Savings and Loan, you know, the bank thing, whether it’s an explosion, whether it’s Medicare fraud. We’ve immunized prosecutors and
we give judges lifetime appointments. And whatever they do, they’re immune. And human nature is that, if you’re immune from punishment, you have a tendency to carry out your personal
beliefs instead of following the law. It’s a big problem.

87 thoughts on “Don Blankenship Says Mine Tragedy That Killed 29 Isn’t His Fault (HBO)

  1. Is Vice RACIST? Did you ever stop to think how OFFENSIVE it is to people with dark skin to call an entitled white man dark?

  2. Responsibility and power come hand in hand. He should have been in prison longer. If you violate safety willingly for profit then you should go to prison at least. Manslaughter should be broadened to include this shit.

  3. sound like a rich coal lord crying because he couldn't manipulate the system any longer had his chance to clear the air but nothing he said convince me he is an innocent man blood is on his hands or is it obama fault??

  4. Thanks to John Oliver's story about coal we received the lovely #EatShitBob, what about we start one saying #DropDeadDon?

  5. Thanks for stopping by and exposing your self, its funny when the corrupt system doesn't want your money anymore and you cry 😢

  6. 1) Most of the people commenting have never, and will never, work a real day in their coddled lives.

    2) Everyone is ignoring the sentient point, how corrupt the political swamp is, and how easy it is for a man to work his whole life to build something. Then have it stolen away. There's a reason George Soros has pivoted away from winning politicians to merely anointing prosecutors. It is damn right SCARY! Don't worry, you'll be next.

  7. It's not the employees job to make their workplace safe, it's their employers (it's called trust). No one likes accepting their wrong especially when there mistakes cost them something, 'the dark lord' has no evidence that it was natural gas while the government has literal tonnes proving it most likely wasn't. Regardless of the cause of the explosion the very fact that it was possible shows negligence on his part, if there was a chance for a natural gas explosion he should have known about and avoided it. It's called responsibility and obviously this sleazbag wants to avoid it

  8. He just handwaves a mountain of documented evidence against his claims as, what, "fake news"? He doesn't even try to counter those claims. What a scum bag.

  9. What does the government stand from faking an investigation? What does he stand from trying to get himself absolved? This is the sort of staggering double think that you see in America all the time, accusing the government of corruption when it is you who is lying

  10. Sociopaths will always find someone else to blame for their greed and ignorance. This piece of shit doesnt even show an ounce of remorse for killing 30 fucking people.

  11. Lolol, this fuckhead goes to a plush white collar prison and meets a bunch of victims of the big bad government. Give me a fuckin break.

  12. 5:40 Oh you pour millionaire, is the system corrupt?….hmm i wonder who corrupted it?

    Will some one finally pay attention to the needs of millionaire's!? There suffering? There struggle in this system?
    Lets start a charity for rich fucks to help them deal with how oppressive the system is against them.

  13. How can you – Vice news – justify the payment to Mr. Blankenship for his interview? During which he spews canned hard right wing rhetoric regarding unions, the 2008 banking recession, and just to get each talking point in there – links 'Medicare for all' somehow to his negative string of connotations in relation to his cavalier attitude towards the deaths of people working under his thumb without proper safety engineering controls. I understand the 1st amendment protects his right to lie and rationalize his lack of empathy, but by giving a platform to this kind of vile human that is clearly out for blood (politically), simply to pad his own ego, results in a warped view of the events that took place at the mine. The line of questioning also displays neutrality on Vice's part…which I typically expect from corporate media (I.e. Murdoch, Viacom, Disney, Time Warner, Comcast). He did go to prison, but he didn't deserve this interview in my opinion. But I'm sure I'm missing something and you know best…click baiting works

  14. He doesn't seem like a nice guy, but he does seem to be honest in this particular case. Doesn't help that the reporter sounds like a gossip columnist baiting for a headline.

  15. Actually, a prosecutor and/or a sitting judge can be disbarred if sufficient evidence of egregious Constitutional violations is present.

  16. Ok, let's say it was a Natural Gas explosion. Which is very suspect and seems to have been argued successfully against by some bright people. But, let's just say that it was Natural Gas. IMO it's still 100% your fault. These people and their families trusted you to keep them safe while they're completely defenseless miles into a mountain side. While these folks are underground digging the coal up for you, you are sitting on top of the hill in a nice fancy office counting your cash. Poor Don, I feel so sorry for you that you had to spend a year in a minimum security prison and will live in luxury for the rest of your life while families continue to mourn.

  17. VICE is afraid to explicitly express any negative sentiment they hold for the man because they'd end up causing the SECOND lawsuit against HBO by a triggered coal-mining quadrillionaire. Good stuff.

  18. "It's actually ignorant to say that you can have 3.5-million cubic feet of natural gas come out of a coal mine after an explosion and that natural gas wasn’t the energy source for the explosion."


  19. No one died because of what Martha Stewart did, heck no one even lost money. Yet Martha went and did her time without complaint. People actually did die because of this guy, for which he got less than a tap on the wrist, and he bitched and moaned the whole time and is still bitching and moaning. Speaks volumes.

  20. No Don Blankenship! Being at the top of your class in playing baseball does not a local hero make! Who cares if you are regulation violations where average among coal mines? That's not true, but if it were, it wouldn't matter. Everyone knows that coal companies and their CEOs and management don't give a s*** about the men who go in those mines everyday and risk their lives. These companies have proved this to be true over and over and over again, even going as far as to take the pensions of the miners when they needed it most after they dedicated their lives to those companies Stop trying to hurt West Virginia by running for the Senate and go away for good. This state is already on its deathbed because of Republican tendencies. Joe manchin may call himself a Democrat but I would say anyone who votes Republican 70% of the time isn't exactly a Democrat. But that's what Democrats look like here and Republicans are so far to the right there off the chart. We don't need you here trying to kill us, and that's exactly what you would do if it helped your interest… and there's countless ways for that to be true in West Virginia.

  21. well blankenship, if it was not your fault then whose fault was it? name some names. you caused our miners deaths. you know you did. i hope you dont get one vote.

  22. This guy needs a shotgun slug to the back of the head. He needs to pay for what he did, and a fucking year for 29 deaths isn't enough.

  23. Thank God, voters in West Virginia told him that he should not be rewarded with a bid for the U.S.Senate! Miners Lives Matter!

  24. Obama had a War on Coal bad; His interests was Solar. Did you ever meet the people after they lost their family members hear what Really happened that day.

  25. Omg There is a Lot of House Explosions now days too! How does that happen where there is Gas lines etc. Check the USA records of House Explosions in Suburban areas too! It's Wild How they just explode.

  26. Not one bit of sorrow or remorse in this mans face or comments. You belong in jail you scumbag and I’d say that to your face if I ever seen you around town.

  27. It wasn’t his fault he is a good man I worked for him at Knox creek he gave us all of what we need to be safe it was the foreman’s fault for not doing his job and the men’s for not checking gas

  28. No there was others who went to jail too, and MSHA didn't do there job either. There was more to it then what your seeing here.

  29. Anyone who works in an industry where safety meeting are a daily occurrence knows exactly the kinds of things management turns a blind eye to in the interest of production. those who speak up are seen as troublemakers and if anything does result from it then they claim we are all in it together because we all knew we were doing wrong so they want a cover up. It starts with the ATTITUDE that comes from management, not their words. Because they will never come out and say they want to allow unsafe practices, especially on paper. They will take your job from you if you push safety too much though, and everyone knows it. This creates a culture of keeping your head down and it's unsafe.It starts from the top, I can read between the lines.

  30. He should have spent the rest of his life in prison those 29 men died because he wanted to put more money in his pocket

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