BP Contractors, Feds Continue to Bar Media from Public Property

June 16, 2010

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.

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