Massey Coal’s Blankenship Versus ABC News

Apr 3, 2008 12:01 PM
Subject: Now Hear This: Blankenship Blows Top
Normally he Blows our WV Mountain Tops…ABC News says Massey CEO attacked producer

By The Associated Press

Massey Energy Chief Executive Don Blankenship threatened to shoot an ABC News producer and physically attacked him, a network spokesman said today.

ABC plans to air footage next week that shows Blankenship telling the producer, “If you’re going to start taking pictures of me, you’re liable to get shot,” ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said. Blankenship then moved quickly toward the producer, grabbed his camera and snapped off a microphone before putting his hand’s to the man’s throat and tearing his shirt collar, Schneider said.

Calls to Blankenship weren’t immediately returned, but Massey spokesman Shane Harvey said today that the ABC producer surprised Blankenship “on company property and some sort of tussle ensued.

“We are aware that over the years Mr. Blankenship’s been attacked a number of times and not surprised that there was a reaction that somebody just jumped out at him and didn’t identify themselves,” Harvey said.

Blankenship told the Charleston Daily Mail newspaper he grabbed the man only after a camera was shoved at him, bruising his chest.

“I don’t know exactly how the tape will look or exactly what I said,” Blankenship told the newspaper. “It all happened quickly. In my view, the cameraman was unprofessional and not knowing him, I didn’t know what his intentions were.

Blankenship also said he couldn’t recall threatening to shoot the producer. “Quite frankly, I don’t know what I said except that I know I’m never loud, vulgar or rude to strangers.

Schneider said the producer, whom he declined to name, attempted an unannounced interview after unsuccessful attempts to arrange a face to face meeting.

ABC is working on a story about Blankenship’s relationship with state Supreme Court Chief Justice Elliott “Spike” Maynard. The two were photographed vacationing in Monaco in July 2006 while Massey had cases pending before the court.

Schneider said ABC also interviewed Maynard and expects to run the story next week.