The National Geographic channel sent a film team to Williston to produce an episode of their Underworld, Inc. show called “Fracking Hell.”
It depicted a story North Dakotans are used to hearing from the national media. One which paints the oil boom as awful, etc., etc.
The problem is, according to the Williston Herald, the filmmakers apparently weren’t all that concerned about accuracy.
Case in point, this incident (emphasis mine):
Footage shot outside the bar shows three leather-clad men standing on the sidewalk, along with a handful of Williston police officers. As a sheriff’s deputy jumps out of his patrol car, the narrator explains that a fight has broken out.
The deputy approaches, speaks briefly to the men, and turns away, having calmed tensions, the show claims.
An aerial shot shows two men roaring away on cruisers, as the narrator notes that they are headed uptown, presumably with suspicious intentions.
“Trouble involving bikers has a way of spilling down Main Street,” the voice intones.
Inside The Shop on Friday afternoon, the special was the center of conversation.
One man, who can be seen briefly on the show standing in front of the bar, said he remembers when men with cameras rolled up, accompanied by the deputy.
Contrary to the film’s claims, there was no violence that night, and the Williston police officers seen in the shot were there to visit with bar patrons who were outside, not break up a fight.
“They came here just to get a story to make money,” the man said. “They didn’t talk to anybody, they just recorded, and made (expletive) up. Everything (was) slander slander slander.”
As the group watched the scene again on someone’s phone, he walked away.
“That’s all false,” he said.
The whole article is worth your time to read, but basically it seems that the film crew went to Williston to find a certain type of story, and when the facts didn’t fit the story they wanted to tell they just manufactured their own story.
Though the show did feature some law enforcement officials, at least one (who apparently wasn’t depicted in the show) is questioning the veracity of what viewers are presented. “Lt. Det. David Peterson of the Williston Police Department questioned the show’s credibility,” the Herald reports.
“I think any media organization that wanted to go to any town in the United States and find some underground activity to report could do it,” Peterson told the Herald. “What about the thousands of hard-working Americans who moved to Williston and made this their home?”
They don’t fit the narrative, Lieutenant.