Cameron’s global blockbuster “Avatar” may be a hit when it returns to theaters Friday, but the outspoken environmentalist is not the savviest operator when it comes to handling his critics on climate change.
He invited, and then uninvited the apparently radioactive right-wing provocateur Andrew Breitbart to a summit about the environment.
And now Breitbart is calling to complain.
How's that again?
At last weekend’s American Renewable Energy Summit in Aspen, Cameron invited climate skeptics to debate him on the topic: Breitbart along with former communications director Marc Morano, and documentarian Ann McElhinney.
He might have done a quick Google search first. The founder of Breitbart.com and Big Hollywood is not a particularly prominent speaker on the issue.
And more to the point, he has recently suffered a public bruising over his release of a Mixmastered tape of Shirley Sherrod, the USDA Georgia state director who turned out not to be a racist. Not the most popular guy these days.
They invited him to debate the climate anyway.
Apparently Cameron has been boasting about being ready to debate climate-change deniers whenever, wherever. And he had been reaching out to tempt the likes of Glenn Beck of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Ok).
They couldn’t make it. And instead they recommended the others, including Breitbart.
Breitbart accepted, as did the other two scientists, but on Saturday – as the writer awaited his flight to Aspen at the airport – Cameron’s people called to cancel the panel.
What was the reason? They didn’t give him one.
So Breitbart, annoyed and insulted, called me.
"Cameron is concocting a fake public posturing that he’ll take on anyone,” he said. “He’s still in bravado mode, while wasting people’s time saying he’s willing to take people on.”
So I asked Cameron’s organizer Richard Greene, to give the reason.
He wouldn’t give one, either.
Instead, Greene passed me along to Joe Romm, a physicist who also was supposed to be on the panel. And he explained that … well, he couldn’t really explain it.
“Mr. Cameron’s people live in the world of Hollywood,” he said. “They have no idea what Breitbart did with Shirley Sherrod.”
Ok ... so? So “no one in the progressive movement would sit down with Andrew Breitbart.”
Apparently Cameron is dying to debate a reasonable man like Glenn Beck. But Andrew Breitbart is over the line.
Meanwhile, Cameron attended the event on Sunday and used the platform to say of those who question man-made global warming: “I think they are swine."
From their point of view, Breitbart “was just someone on a list of names of people who disagree” with Cameron, said Romm.
I asked repeatedly why Richard Greene would not respond to these questions directly.
Greene wouldn’t say. Romm wouldn’t, either.
But he did say this: “It’s kind of obvious that was not handled well.”
I agree. Gotta work hard these days for Andrew Breitbart to make you look like an ass.