Update, Sept. 15, 12:20pm PDT: We got an email from Al Jazeera America Inside Story saying that Al Jazeera English Inside Story is the one that extended the invitation to appear, not Al Jazeera America Inside Story. If you all are confused, so was I. Apologies to AJA Inside Story.
America English canceled its planned panel discussion of the documentary by sibling Al Jazeera English of the Boeing 787, aired last week to withering criticism by reviewers, including this column. AJA’s AJE’s half hour discussion program, Inside Story, was to take a free-wheeling look at the documentary. I was invited, and accepted, a slot on the panel. Even after I pointed out my scathing review, AJA AJE assured me that I was still welcome.
The program was to air Sunday or Monday this week. I received notice in a 3am email Sunday (PDT) that the program had been canceled, although no reason why was given and none was provided when I asked.
I don’t know what the real intent of the program was, though I can guess.
AJA AJE was trying to get the IAM and SPEEA unions as the other panel participants, so to me it smelled of validation of the documentary rather than an independent discussion. I have no way of knowing whether the unions accepted or declined and the program was canceled for lack of participants or whether it was canceled for other reasons.
Update, Sept. 15, 8:00 am PDT:
AJA AJE says the news director concluded there had been enough coverage of the Boeing story and decided to move on.
However, I had my talking points ready. Here’s what I would have said had the program proceeded:
If there was time, I also would have pointed out that AJE in 2010 did another expose (or documentary, if you will) on the Boeing 737. This begs the question what is going on with AJE and Boeing?
I also can’t help but wonder if there might be some deliberate effort to embarrass Boeing by AJE for reasons unknown.
I am not suggesting that legitimate issues should not be raised, particularly when they involve safety generally and proper assembly of the 787. However, as I noted in my review, the 787 AJE “documentary” had little new news, seemed more interested in dramatics and engaged in deception and an ambush.
One TV reporter I spoke with afterwards, who agrees the “documentary” was poorly constructed, nonetheless had criticism of Boeing’s handling of it, calling the on-camera termination of the interview with 787 program VP Larry Loftis a poor choice that left a bad impression of Boeing; and that in his view, in all likelihood Loftis had not been adequately briefed by Boeing’s communications team about the possibilities of being faced with embarrassing allegations as a contingency.
Regardless, nobody came out of this covered in glory.