MPR’s Tim Post spoke this evening with Bell Museum Director Susan Weller after the announcement that the University would indeed show the environmental documentary Troubled Waters.
On why she canceled the Bell Museum premier of the film:
“When I was stepping on a plane Sept. 8 to go to Europe to give a presentation, I received a phone call that the (Twin Cities Public Television) broadcast had been canceled. And so then I’m on a plane, I arrive and I’m checking e-mails, trying to find out what happened. With the limited information I had, I decided that if the university was so concerned about the film … then we needed to go back and ensure that we had followed all our internal procedures, so that I could … really be able to stand behind (the film). And so my decision to postpone the screening at the Bell Museum was based on the fact that the broadcast was canceled. .. They were linked.”
On the fact-checking she felt was necessary for the film’s integrity — and why it took until today for her to be satisfied, and for the announcement to be made:
I’m not a micromanager. When I requested the documents, they were not made available to me immediately. (I requested them) Sept. 8 or 9. I started receiving (them) Monday the 20th. I was overseas, so it would have been difficult for them to ship it to me overseas, I suppose. … As of Monday I have been receiving documentation I had requested. And I’ve been taking time to review parts of it. I’ve had the staff explain to me their procedures for fact-checking in detail. I felt when the scientific accuracy of the film was questioned by others, I needed to be able to stand by the product. I finally received all of the material late last night/this morning, so I (am) able to represent this film as being thoroughly fact-checked.
On the effect of the flap on the University’s reputation:
It looks bad, and I would just say we’re kind of a big, sometimes dysfunctional family, and we need to have that weekly family conference once in a while to get us all back on the same page. I think there will be a lot of people, myself included, reflecting on how we could have done a better process, and how this could have been handled better. But we’re so in the moment. I really can’t comment on what happened specifically or what I’d do differently. It’s been very intense these past few days.
On who originally made the decision to cancel the TPT showing:
That’s a piece of information I simply don’t have. I’ll leave it to those who were involved in that decision to self-disclose.