WDSU, the NBC affiliate in New Orleans (Channel 6), found that BP's highly publicized statement that it is not barring news media from witnessing the cleanup, or its failure, is in fact not true. Without any legal authority, BP "security" contractors aggressively seek to intimidate and drive away reporters trying to cover the spill and response on public beaches.
WDSU's Scott Walker had the story June 11, 2010.
Any news media who are being denied access to spill response operations by either federal or private employees are encouraged to contact the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center (JIC) starting Thursday, June 17, 2010, at (713) 323-1670 or (713) 323-1671. National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen in a May 31, 2010, policy memo directed all personnel to give media presumptive access.
SEJ President Christy George communicated SEJ's concerns over denial of press access in a June 4, 2010, letter to Adm. Allen. SEJ's letter came at a time when the Coast Guard seemed to be trying to encourage openness with Adm. Allen's policy.
The Coast Guard acted on one of the suggestions in SEJ's letter — moving the JIC to New Orleans for easier access. It announced that move June 16.
While Adm. Allen's May 31 policy directive seemed to give clear marching orders for openness — and BP COO Doug Suttles' subsequent statement of June 9 seemed to reinforce it, incidents on the ground since then suggest many responders are either violating orders or operating under conflicting orders that restrict access, as the incident with WDSU illustrates.
There are numerous other examples:
The Associated Press compiled a long list of incidents in which cleanup workers violated their orders on press access into a feature article June 16. Michael Oreskes, an AP senior managing editor, asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to intervene — but did not hear back.
- "Spill Coverage Barriers Remain Despite Promises," Associated Press, June 16, 2010, by Tamara Lush
- "Silence Spreads As BP Signs Up Boat Captains & Fishermen," Wildlife Promise blog (National Wildlife Federation), June 16, 2010, by Miles Grant.
- "BP Hires Mercenaries To Block Oily Beaches," Danger Room (WIRED), June 15, 2010, by Adam Rawnsley.
- "Partial Owner of Deepwater Horizon Declines To Testify, Receives 'Executive Of The Year' Award Instead," Huffington Post, June 15, 2010, by Ryan Grim.
- "The Media Equation: A Disaster, Privately Managed," New York Times, June 13, 2010, by David Carr.
- "The Solution to Obama's BP Press Problem," Huffington Post, June 13, 2010, by Ari Melber.
- "Reports: BP and Government Blocking Coverage of Oil Damage," Raw Story, June 12, 2010, by Muriel Kane.
- "ABC Reporter Covering Oil Spill at Alabama Beach Says He's Hassled by BP While Covering Cleanup," Mobile Press-Register, June 11, 2010, by staff.
- "BP's Crisis Communications Strategy Is Fundamentally Flawed," Huffington Post, June 11, 2010, by James Hoggan (publisher of DeSmogBlog).
- "Democrats Want Chemical Disclosure in Gulf Spill Cleanup, Containment Efforts," Greenwire, June 11, 2010, by Katie Howell.
- "What BP Doesn't Want You To See," CNN, Anderson Cooper and Jim Acosta, June 10, 2010.
- "Are Journalists Being Kept from the Oil Spill?," AtlanticWire, June 10, 2010, by Heather Horn.
- "BP Asks Twitter's @BPGlobalPR to Be More Clear That It's Fake," Daily Finance, June 10, 2010, by Sarah Gilbert.
- "Oil Spill Pictures — BP Coverup — First Amendment," BP Oil News, June 9, 2010, by Michael J. Evans.
- "On the Gulf Coast, Media Access Can Be Hard to Come By," PBS NewsHour, June 9, 2010, by Spencer Michaels.
- "Adm. Thad Allen: More Info Needed from BP on Oil Spill Damage Claims," Mobile Press-Register, June 9, 2010, by Sean Reilly.
- "Thad Allen Letter To Tony Hayward: BP Is Not Being Transparent," Associated Press, June 9, 2010.
- "Efforts to Limit the Flow of Spill News," New York Times, June 9, 2010, by Jeremy Peters.
- "E.P.A. Discloses Ingredients of Oil Dispersant," Green blog (New York Times), June 9, 2010.
- Text of June 8, 2010, Adm. Thad Allen letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward.
- Text of BP COO Doug Suttle's June 8, 2010, letter claiming falsely that BP grants media access.
- SEJ Letter of June 4, 2010, to Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen on Media Access to Spill Response Operations.
- "BP's Image Scrub Trumps Gulf Cleanup," Beat The Press, WGBH-TV, June 4, 2010, hosted by Emily Rooney.
- "Was BP Actively Restricting Media Access to the Oil Spill?" Consumer Energy Report, June 4, 2010.
- "Media Encounter Access Problems While Covering the Oil Spill," On The Media (NPR), June 4, 2010, by Bob Garfield.
- "Another Torrent BP Works to Stem: Its C.E.O.," New York Times, June 3, 2010, by Jad Mouawad and Clifford Krauss.
- "Policy for Media Access to Deepwater Horizon/MC 252 Response Operations," US Coast Guard, May 31, 2010, by Adm. T.W. Allen, National Incident Commander.
- Previous Stories: WatchDog of June 2, 2010: