Evidence is mounting that BP is not only trying to control message war as the oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico, but also they are hassling reporters and media who are attempting to report on the clean up efforts. ABC News reporter Matt Gutman captured BP’s daily tactics on video, as the energy giant tries to prevent the American people from seeing the truth.
Here is the video courtesy of ABC News
In Gutman’s case, while he was setting up for a Skype chat on his laptop from a beach in Alabama, a BP manager came up to him and asked, “You mind if I ask why you’ve set up a camera right here while my guys are working?” Gutman assured the BP manager that he was not talking to the BP clean up crew, and that it would only take five minutes, and the BP worker replied, “I find it interesting.” BP has a gag order on all of its employees working on the clean up that bans them from talking to the press.
Grutman and ABC News are not alone. Numerous journalists have been threatened or harassed by BP for trying to report what is going on in the Gulf.
Here is video of BP threatening a boatload of CBS employees 3 weeks ago:
Carlos Miller of, Photography is Not A Crime pointed out today that reporters must be embedded with a rep from BP if they want to cover the story, “In other words, journalists need to be embedded with BP if they want to cover the story. Not much different than how journalists need to be embedded with the military if they want to cover the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The FAA has created a no-fly zone over the area, and the New York Times reported yesterday that the Department of Homeland Security has been blocking journalists from covering the story, “Last week, Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, tried to bring a small group of journalists with him on a trip he was taking through the gulf on a Coast Guard vessel. Mr. Nelson’s office said the Coast Guard agreed to accommodate the reporters and camera operators. But at about 10 p.m. on the evening before the trip, someone from the Department of Homeland Security’s legislative affairs office called the senator’s office to tell them that no journalists would be allowed.”
I can understand why BP would be trying to keep the media out, but I would love to know who in the Obama administration thought that it would be a good idea to align with BP against the journalists who are trying to report the story? It might seem like good politics to try to keep control of the flow of information during a crisis, but in this case it isn’t. BP is the villain here, and the White House can not benefit by aiding them in any way. If the Obama administration is serious about turning up the heat not only on BP, but also towards pushing for new regulations, then it is critical that the American people see the whole story.
Those of us on the Left howled when the Bush administration presented the American people with a sanitized view of the invasion of Iraq through the use of embedded correspondents that could be manipulated and controlled by the military, and the practice is just as wrong when the Obama administration allows BP to make the rules on who and how information is reported from the Gulf. It is a safe bet that this policy did not come from Obama himself, but he needs to be one to reverse it ASAP.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association