Blocking The Press

Read this story and tell me what you think. I’m kind of conflicted.

First, if BP is blocking access to the beach, so that cameras can’t get in and reporters can’t cover the spill, without any doubt I think that is wrong.

On the other hand, if what reporters are upset about is that BP doesn’t want them tromping through clean-up efforts, or, if what Think Progress is asserting is that they have a right to interview employees while they are supposed to be working, I disagree completely. I can’t think of any organization from McDonalds to the CIA that would allow the media to just march on in the middle of operations and start questioning employees.

Am I out in left field on this?






203 replies
  1. 1
    Karatist Preacher says:

    Who are you going to trust?

    BP or your own lying eyes?

  2. 2
    schrodinger's cat says:

    At this juncture unfortunately neither the media nor BP has much credibility with me, so I don’t really know who to believe.

    OT: How is your back today?

    ETA: By media, I mean the Beltway punditry. They seem to be more concerned with calibrating Obama’s anger or the lack thereof instead of focusing on what is actually happening.

  3. 3
    licensed to kill time says:

    I don’t think you’re in left field. My thoughts on this have been a combination of:

    the press being a pain in the ass,
    individual ‘officials’ being authoritarian jackasses,
    employees not wanting to lose a job so just refusing to talk because it’s safer that way,
    and complete confusion so nobody wants to stick their neck out and go against the grain.

    That, and BP trying to minimize coverage so as to better control it.

  4. 4
    And Another Thing... says:

    Oh, yeah, BP is worried about the productivity of it’s workers, or oh my god, tramping thru a nice clean beach messing up my nice clean floors.

    It’s a public beach. It’s our ocean. Private security has no right to interfere with the press.

    If and when press boat’s are endangering somebody’s safety at sea, that’s another question.

    BP thinks they can hide what’s going on.

  5. 5

    I think there is a lot of chaos down there and too many bosses running around. I hear it’s getting better on that score, but, no, you aren’t out in left field (at least on this one). I was watching CNN the other day, (though why I am baffled), and a national guard soldier was running off reporters from a wildlife first aid station run by BP. I thought that was weird and inappropriate, but when the station’s chief came out and explained it would cause the animals added stress if a bunch of people with cameras and mics crowded in around workers doing gawds work trying to save these critters.

    There has been plenty of footage of the critter rescue operations in a controlled manner, but the press doesn’t have a right to run around willy nilly gathering delicious scoops in any way they want. Especially with workers on the job, where every second counts toward mitigating this disaster.

  6. 6
    RinaX says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    That’s kind of where I am. It seems that the reporter did eventually get access, but the workers themselves did not talk to them. Out of fear of being fired or just not wanting to talk to the reporters, either reason is equally viable, or maybe a combination of both.

    But unless I’m missing something, there’s nothing stopping them from having a long-range zoom camera and actually capturing the damage to the beaches, right?

  7. 7
    NobodySpecial says:

    Well, the guy they were trying to interview was on break, so it’s not like they just ran onto the beach and were shoving mikes into the faces of guys elbow deep in oil.

    Bottom line: Private security officials tend towards pomposity and powertripping. As NWH would say…

    Fuck the Security Guards

  8. 8
    El Tiburon says:

    You are not even in the stadium , John.

    They were on a beach. Exactly how is a reporter going to mess up the beach by “tromping” through it?

    And doing this type of clean up aint exactly brain surgery.

    BP doesn’t own the beach. They can’t order US citizens around.

    They are trying to control and censor the message.

  9. 9
    Rick Taylor says:

    I’m a bit conflicted myself, and the answer depends on the details. But there’s a difference between BP and you’re example of McDonalds. BP is trying to keep people off what was public land; they don’t get to claim it because they spilled oil on it.

  10. 10
    Urza says:

    Having watched the CNN segments where they weren’t allowed in, I’m gonna say BP is being suspiciously heavy handed about it. Not only could they not go in, but off duty people weren’t even willing to say who was telling them not to talk. At the least one of the people leaving for the day should be willing to say “BP says don’t talk to the media so I’m not talking”.

  11. 11
    handy says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Speaking of credibility and the media, actual AP headline coming off the wire:

    Obama and GOP bicker over doctors’ Medicare pay

    Yes, the GOP is stiffing doctors because they don’t want their precious oil companies to pay for their messes, and this is “bickering.” Way to uphold the “he said/she said” standard of journalism, AP.

  12. 12

    I’d like to say first: long time reader, first time commenter.

    As far as media access goes, it is extremely common for corporations to limit access to employees. The employees can get in trouble for communicating to the media because what they say may be interpreted as “BP’s position.” Almost all corporations would prefer their PR/media people do the communicating for the company. So no, what BP is doing is not at all uncommon.

    I also think it’s probably disruptive to have the media tromping around where you’re working, and depending on what they’re doing it could be dangerous.

    That said, BP is in a bit of a unique situation right now so erring on the side of openess is probably in their best interest.

  13. 13
    Bnut says:

    Unless a reporter is pouring some Mobil1 out onto the sand, I don’t see how they would fuck anything up…

  14. 14

    And then there is the legal matter of a lot of these oiled beaches having been declared Hazmat areas, and there are liabilities for anyone tromping around without proper hazmat gear. The beaches aren’t all that public down there right now. and getting less so by the day.

  15. 15

    I think it’s a little bit of both. First, BP has been overly controlling of access to some areas, but there are a lot of reporters down there who are hoping to have their “Shep Smith after Katrina” moment thanks to this oil spill.

    I mean, an AP reporter actually went on a dive into the oil plumes. Rachel Maddow was able to get to the beach of an island that was already getting hit by oil, and we’ve all seen the photos of birds covered in oil.

    It’s not that there isn’t any coverage of these things.

    If the press were smart, they would work out a pool arrangement so one camera crew could go into an area and film, and then everyone would have access to the footage.

    OTOH, I have no doubt that there’s a cone of silence in those work areas. When the Company Man is the only one hiring because the entire economy is fux0red, that’s where your deference will lie.

  16. 16
    TenguPhule says:

    Exactly how is a reporter going to mess up the beach by “tromping” through it?

    Stepping in oil slicks and spreading it all over the place?

    Just a thought, they invented long range scopes for a reason.

    But then the Media couldn’t make a soap opera out of that.

  17. 17
    TenguPhule says:

    And doing this type of clean up aint exactly brain surgery.

    And that lack of appreciation for Hazmat training is EXACTLY why we have more and more sick cleanup workers.

  18. 18
    sukabi says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: which would be one thing except that BP is refusing to allow the cleanup workers to wear respirators because “it looks bad”…

  19. 19
    El Tiburon says:

    Licensed to kill at #3

    Yeah you know it’s kind of the press’ job to be a pain in the ass, dint you think? Otherwise we wouldn’t know what was going on except for what BP wanted us to know.

    Nixon would have loved you.

    RinaX at #7:

    I like how it is no big deal to you that a worker would get fired for talking to the press.

    Where is the fucking outrage around here? BP is trying to shut out the press on the biggest fucking environmental disaster we have ever known and most of you are like “right on!”

    Maybe the fire baggers over at FDL will show some emotion beyond a collective yawn.

  20. 20
    Elie says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    ..and I can see reporters then tracking the oil (which is toxic and noxious), all over wherever. This of course would be blamed on BP for not managing the clean up site and might necessitate them in taking time out to have to train the press or equip the press — both not an obligation that they should have to fulfil right now.

    Now, if the press waits for people at the end of their work day, and catches them then, after they are cleaned up and off duty, yes, they should have access to them.

    I completely agree with John that interfering with the clean up workers when on duty is actually detrimental to the cleanup and a stupid nuisance

  21. 21
    MattR says:

    I don’t know if either side would be interested in a compromise, but I don’t see why they can’t allow in a single cameraman/reporter to unobtrusively document what is going on and provide pool coverage to the rest of the media.

  22. 22
    fucen tarmal says:

    unless the media dick punched the rep from bp more than say 50 times in a row, i would say bp is wrong, just in general….

  23. 23
    tkogrumpy says:

    I don’t think you are out in left field, more like just in front of shortstop. An arguement can be made to support your position, just don’t expect me to make it. This is a special case. there is no way around it one way or another we are all going to pay for this screwup, and I for one do not mind paying for a little real time info without the BP PR filter.

  24. 24
    mr. whipple says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    Hey man, yer back!

    On topic: is it OK to be sick of everything?

  25. 25
    Mark S. says:

    I’ve read too many stories where the Coast Guard or sheriff make it pretty clear they’re taking orders from BP. I find that pretty fucking creepy, but that’s living in a corpocracy.

  26. 26
    Catsy says:

    There is a difference between being allowed to march through a hazardous area or disrupt workers, and being told they’re not allowed to film and being chased out of anywhere they might be able to do so regardless of whether or not anyone’s working there or its danger level.

    BP is perpetrating the latter in order to avoid publicity, and they don’t have any legal standing to do so. It just happens that sometimes the situation is /also/ the former.

  27. 27
    gwangung says:

    Yeah you know it’s kind of the press’ job to be a pain in the ass, dint you think?

    In the right way, of course. For example, scaring wildlife away from a wildlife first aid station is probably not the right way. Tramping through treated areas and spreading dispersants in the wrong area probably isn’t the right way either. Quietly intercepting workers off work (not break, in sight of BP execs), and asking questions? Probably a right way (or, at least, better way).

  28. 28

    @Rick Taylor:

    I’m 99% sure that’s wrong. If it’s a work site, then whoever is doing the work has the right to control the site as it pertains to their work, regardless of whether it’s public land or not.

  29. 29
    El Tiburon says:

    @TenguPhule:

    And that lack of appreciation for Hazmat training is EXACTLY why we have more and more sick cleanup workers.

    Yeah, my lack of appreciation is causing workers to get sick, not the all of that damn oil.

    So, according to you, reporters need to stay away for fear of getting sick? That is just ridiculous.

  30. 30
    demimondian says:

    I don’t know, John. My problem here is that we all know BP is managing the message here. They’ve got a plausible reason to limit access, yes, but I don’t trust them to be candid, on the basis of their past fudging about the flow rate, so I don’t trust their motives here, either.

  31. 31

    @sukabi: I am not defending the asshat BP. They will take every break they get from not having bad news reported on this atrocity. But regardless of their overall bad motives, it is not a good idea to interfere with workers on the job, especially this one, and respirators are only one element of being hazmat trained.

    Like Cole said, no company around allows unfettered media access to their workers who they are paying by the hour to work for them. And that is their right. Though disallowing said access also has it’s PR downside, for peeps to holler about BP shutting off free speech, which they are, but with pretty good reasons or excuses, depending.

  32. 32
    gwangung says:

    @Catsy: Anybody with a brain at BP would conflate, intentionally, the two. I’m not sure a lot of the national press would have the brains to distinguish between the two.

  33. 33
    licensed to kill time says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Nixon would have loved you.

    I take exception to that remark and will meet you at dawn on the (oily) beach. Bring your pistols and second, sir!

  34. 34

    @El Tiburon:

    Yeah you know it’s kind of the press’ job to be a pain in the ass, dint you think? Otherwise we wouldn’t know what was going on except for what BP wanted us to know.

    Hey, there’s plenty of “pain in the ass” to go around, and I’m personally more interested in the other stories (like the BP/MMS cozy relationship, the worker sicknesses, the actual events that happened on the DH, etc. than some b-roll of folks in hazmat suits on a beach. But whatever.

    I’ve seen this “press being denied access” story going on every other day with another news outlet. It’s like they all want to get the same story with their logo bug on it.

    But we might want to take a look through the video and photo archives from AP, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and local TV and newspaper outlets to see just how much access is being denied before we automatically accept the narrative.

    I like how it is no big deal to you that a worker would get fired for talking to the press.

    I don’t even know that they would get fired for talking to the press. Has anyone been fired for talking to the press? The point is, nobody has to get fired. It’s a spiral of silence. And while the press, and we, can be pissed about it, nobody can make these people talk either.

    Like I said above, if the Company Man is the only person hiring, and the only thing between you and a cozy sleeping bag under a bridge, then you learn to keep your mouth shut even if the Company Man says you can talk.

    ETA: I should add that $10/hour (the reported amount of pay for this work) is bullshit. BP should be paying at least twice that, if not more + benefits. Fuck ’em.

  35. 35
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    @And Another Thing…:

    It’s a public beach. It’s our ocean.

    There it is.

  36. 36
    El Tiburon says:

    @gwangung:

    In the right way, of course

    Classic. Was this report, or any of them, firing off fireworks or something?

    A reporter, who is simply a human being, you know like all of those hundreds or thousands of workers is not going to add to the damage being done. It’s not like the workers somehow float above the oil covered sand.

  37. 37
    gwangung says:

    @El Tiburon: Ah, the classic idiot’s response. Ya’ll paying attention to what I’m saying, or is the only thing that gets through is that I’m disagreeing with you, in part?

  38. 38

    It is always interesting to see people take sides of people they usually loathe, but now loathe the other side even more. BP V Press. I guess I am as guilty as the next person at this, but it is kind of amusing.

  39. 39
    Joshua Norton says:

    Not to give BP a free pass on any of this, but the press is like a flock of pigeons. If you feed one or two pretty soon there’s a few thousand tromping around looking for something, and just generally getting in the way.

    I saw the same thing here in San Francisco after the last big earthquake. They just wandered around in droves looking for something to cover. As soon as someone stood still or looked like they might be crying there was a hundred microphones stuck in their face.

    Are they covering a story or trying to make one up.

  40. 40
    Lysana says:

    @El Tiburon:

    So, according to you, reporters need to stay away for fear of getting sick? That is just ridiculous.

    Where the hell did he say that? It was that bullshit line about oil cleanup not being rocket science he was responding to. And yes, as a matter of fact, hazmat IS a rather difficult scientific process in many areas. Just because they can use off-the-shelf dishwashing liquid to wash the birds off doesn’t mean the rest of it is that straightforward.

  41. 41
    Ned Ludd says:

    According to CNN, they showed up at quitting time, after the workday was done:

    “We made a point to come out here on the beach at Grand Isle, right at quitting time… We didn’t want to interfere with their work or be accused of interfering with their work… But then [security] said, you cannot talk to the workers on the beach…

    “When we tried to talk to the workers as they were leaving the beach, when we had been told their work was done, we were still being ordered by the security guards to leave them alone, to stay away from them…”

    This is an environmental catastrophe that’s affecting public land, public air, and public water, as well as private property that does not belong to BP. We have a right to know how the clean-up operation is going. Considering how large the impacted area is, and the large number of workers deployed, a couple dozen reporters interviewing clean-up workers – even during the workday – will not slow down the clean-up in any appreciable way.

    BP destroyed public land and private land that does not belong to them. BP works for us. We have a right to full transparency on how they are fixing the damage.

  42. 42
    El Tiburon says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Hey, there’s plenty of “pain in the ass” to go around, and I’m personally more interested in the other stories (like the BP/MMS cozy relationship, the worker sicknesses, the actual events that happened on the DH, etc. than some b-roll of folks in hazmat suits on a beach. But whatever.

    This isn’t really about you, is it? Thismis about BP trying to control the media. I don’t care if it is TMZ down there looking for lady gaga, BP doesn’t have the right. Period.

    I don’t even know that they would get fired for talking to the press. Has anyone been fired for talking to the press? The point is, nobody has to get fired. It’s a spiral of silence. And while the press, and we, can be pissed about it, nobody can make these people talk either.

    It is well documented that the workers are not to talk to the press. Did you even read the linked story?

  43. 43

    I guess now would be a good time to add that I’m not sure I fully understand why BP is in charge of the beach cleanup at all. I assume the government has some knowledge of oil spill cleanup, more so than plugging the damned hole. Why can’t the coast guard or EPA oversee the actual operations and bill BP for the costs? Apart from liability issues, I assume.

    Also, from what I’ve read, BP was actually subcontracting out a lot of this work to other cleanup companies. I suspect another layer for graft and greed to skim a little off the Gulf Coast’s misery.

  44. 44
    gbear says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    Yes. When you seperate your gut feelings (aka: nausea) about the oil spill from the cleanup matters at hand, the beaches should be considered hazmat locations and the public and press shouldn’t be allowed to go splooshing around in the muck, as much for their own safety as the possibility they’ll do more damage inadvertently. People in that area should know what they’re doing.

    I work for state govt. and we have very strict rules about how we’re allowed to talk to the press. You don’t do it without permission. I’ve done it before but it can be very tricky trying to talk with a community reporter about how you’re being very fussy with a project because doing it wrong could allow a dam to fail (p.s. everything turned out fine).

    That said, BP are being heavyhanded dicks about access. And the press are being watb because they have to work at getting a story without just being able to throw up some visuals. And everybody loses.

  45. 45

    @Ned Ludd: And what exactly would these workers have to offer about what they are doing, stuff reporters can see them do from a distance. They are picking up oil, that is it. The reporters could ask these workers if they are getting paid enough, or why they would work for such an evil company, or whether they think Obama is doing a good job etc… etc…../ The point is what could they offer but something that could be twisted and used for another mindless and irrelevant meme. My guess is most of the workers are just fine with not dealing with these jackals out for dirt. And accidentally saying something that sounds like they know something, which they don’t/

  46. 46
    Elisabeth says:

    I see this issue will be resolved quickly and amicably.

  47. 47
    Fern says:

    Yes these are public beaches. However, under the present circumstances, they are also workplaces. Name me one employer who would allow reporters open access into a work area/workplace and let them to talk to any employee who stood still long enough. And if I was one of the employees, I wouldn’t want someone’s camera and microphone stuck into my face.

    Not to mention that these work areas are, because of the oil strewn around and whatever equipment they are using, hazardous areas. There is a good chance that the reporters would endanger themselves and the people working there.

  48. 48
    gbear says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Yeah, my lack of appreciation is causing workers to get sick, not the all of that damn oil.

    You really are revealing yourself as a candidate for a Darwin award.

  49. 49
    gwangung says:

    I guess now would be a good time to add that I’m not sure I fully understand why BP is in charge of the beach cleanup at all.

    My understanding is that the lines of financial responsibility is clearer and less fraught with after the fact legal wrangling if BP is in charge from the start (if they screw it up, much easier to go back after them, since it was their responsibility from the start). However, I’m willing to be corrected.

  50. 50
    AhabTRuler says:

    “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along…move along.”

  51. 51
    justcorbly says:

    BP has a right to enforce a rule that its employees must not talk to the media. BP does not have a right to block access to any public land or facility on which its employees happen to be working. If BP employees are working on public land, then anyone has a right to walk up and ask a question or film or record their activities. Those employees are under no obligation to answer.

  52. 52
    El Tiburon says:

    @Lysana:

    Where the hell did he say that? It was that bullshit line about oil cleanup not being rocket science he was responding to.
    look, cleaning up oil aint fucking rocket science. I am not bagging on hazy professionals, but most of those workers down there doing the basic clean up are not Phds.

    And yes, as a matter of fact, hazmat IS a rather difficult scientific process in many areas. Just because they can use off-the-shelf dishwashing liquid to wash the birds off doesn’t mean the rest of it is that straightforwaArd.

    I am not even talking about hazmat fer christs sake. My point was that for a lot of these workers talking to a reporter is not the same as a reporter bursting in while a surgeon is cutting open someones chest for a heart transplant.

  53. 53

    @El Tiburon:

    It is well documented that the workers are not to talk to the press. Did you even read the linked story?

    Fuck you, ET. If it’s not about me, it’s damned sure not about you either.

    I’ve been reading this story since the original CBS crew tried to get on the beach and were chased off by the BP lackey and a couple of coasties. And when they revealed the language in the BP contract (which has since been removed).

    It is well documented that the workers are not to talk to the press. Did you even read the linked story?

    Walker was eventually able to go over to the tent after an intervention from an official in the sheriff’s office, but none of the workers would talk to him, since the security official was telling them that they didn’t have to say anything.

    Maybe you can explain to me how “they didn’t have to say anything” is exactly the same as “are not to talk to the press.”

    Having said that, if I were working on a gulf cleanup crew, I’d be able to hear that dog whistle loud and clear.

    In case you misunderstood me, I think workers should be able to speak freely to the press. But given BP’s reputation, I’d be surprised if any of them spoke to the press right in front of their job site, on camera, with their name on a lower-third. And I can’t say I blame them.

    If I were press, I’d try to find a way to get on a crew myself (not sure how you’d do that without faking a resume or application), or interview a crew member off-site, with one of those mafia-style backlighting and disguised voice set-ups.

    Also, recall that after the DH blew up, there were all kinds of stories about how the people on the crew had to sign waivers that they wouldn’t speak about the incident before they were taken to shore. And yet 60 minutes and CNN have had a number of crew members telling their stories recently.

    I suspect the cleanup workers will be talking. It will take more than these little showboat confrontations with the local Barney Fife to get those stories, though. (Mother Jones’ reporter has been talking with an anonymous cleanup worker for a couple of weeks now, IIRC).

  54. 54
    Uloborus says:

    @Mark S.:
    Every story I’ve read so far has been a retelling of a couple of stories, which were blatant media whining that they have to obey rules like everyone else.

    And @El Tiburon: yes, actually. That’s one excellent reason to keep them off a beach being cleaned. All hazardous spill areas of any kind, big or small, are kept restricted on exactly that theory.

    Look, I think BP would love to manage the message and hide this. I dare say they’re hiding everything they can get away with, because the government has kicked them a few times into releasing or correcting data. But journalists can’t go everywhere and talk to everyone. They can’t do that right now, in any other situation. And there’s nothing to hide. More photos of oil on beaches and messed up animals? In this particular case, they could take shots from right up off the beach. The worst this is, is low level managers and security people taking the initiative to block off their immediate area more than strictly necessary – you know, standard beaurocratic confusion.

    You can try and spin this into some conspiracy if you want, but there’s nothing to gain from it, and none of these stories are things that aren’t just standard practice. Except maybe the not moving officials and press together story, but that’s more just weird than suspicious, and I haven’t heard the government’s side.

  55. 55
    RinaX says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Um, fuck you, I never said that. I said that them being afraid of being fired is one viable option for them not talking, not that it was okay.

  56. 56
    And Another Thing... says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: The workers have a right to not talk to the reporters. BP has a right, as a condition of employment, to tell their workers not to talk to reporters.

    If it’s a HAZMAT site, or for other reasons dangerous, the cops and the Coast Guard can declare an out-of-bounds line.

    BP has no effing right to tell anyone, whether they are reporters or not, that they cannot go on a PUBLIC beach or to stay out of PUBLIC water.

    Who gives a fig if reporters waste their time.

    Some yahoo wearing a polo shirt with a logo has NO gawddamn right to draw the lines.

    This is an important concept. BP is going to push that line as far as they can get away with.

  57. 57
    El Tiburon says:

    @gwangung:
    Hey, you are the one advising reporters to not offend the big bosses at BP, for them to “quietly intercept workers not in sight of BP execs”.

    Again, this is all about BP trying to control public land to our media and you seem to be okay with that. But I’m the idiot. Fine.

  58. 58
    Ned Ludd says:

    @Brien Jackson: You are absolutely wrong. I work in construction. We cannot stop the owner from being on their own property. If they get in our way, we tell them. If they put themselves at risk, we tell them. And if they put us at risk, we’ll walk off the job. But it’s their land, and they can go where they want.

    Also, when we hire a subcontractor, my boss would blow a gasket if the subcontractor prohibited us from talking to their employees. When you hire someone, they work for you, and you call the shots – and you can talk to whoever you damn well like.

  59. 59
    sukabi says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: the thing of it is, that BP was caught from the beginning requiring cleanup workers to sign documentation forbidding them to speak to anyone about what was going on period… and when they got called out on it, took that written clause out… but the continuing implication is pretty clear, “If you talk, you don’t have a job.” Also their “tent cities” for the cleanup crew is another isolation tactic… it would be far cheaper to let folks go home to their families or put up in motels after a days work than to keep them housed in compounds with armed guards don’t you think? All of BP’s actions are designed for PR message control, and are not in the interests of the workers hired, the environment or anyone except their bottom line.

  60. 60
    gwangung says:

    In case you misunderstood me, I think workers should be able to speak freely to the press. But given BP’s reputation, I’d be surprised if any of them spoke to the press right in front of their job site, on camera, with their name on a lower-third. And I can’t say I blame them.

    It strikes me that I’m far more interested in what these workers would say as opposed to BPs efforts at corporate spin (I would guess someone high up at BP figured that they can’t look any worse than they already do, so they may as well continue being dicks). It’s not news that BP is trying to control the message, it’s not news that media people are complaining. I’d want to know what’s being done, period.

  61. 61
    gwangung says:

    @El Tiburon: Boy, you’re really pretty stupid, aren’t you?

    You really don’t care what people say; you just care what you think they said and what kind of propaganda hay you can make out of it.

  62. 62
    kay says:

    @Uloborus:

    They have to do a better job. They’re making it worse for people in Florida:

    “Many of his neighbors are still angry about how the cable news networks publicized the appearance of tar balls in Key West on May 17, tar balls that were not actually from the spill, leading some experts to surmise that they may have come from a ship.

    Indeed, Florida is already learning that perception can define reality. Key Largo hosted a “reef fest” for divers last week, but after an extensive advertising campaign estimated to have reached 1.5 million people, only six divers showed up. Jackie Harder, president of the local chamber of commerce, said she had expected 300.”

    I was listening yesterday, and cable news was speculating on why the workers (now) seem to be sporadically working. It’s because it’s 90 degrees and they’re all suited up, for God’s sake, I would think. They’re taking frequent breaks. I hope.

    If they’re not even going to use a modicum of common sense, and actually harm tourism needlessly by reporting rumors, or leave the impression the workers are slacking off, why would anyone talk to them?

  63. 63
    El Tiburon says:

    @RinaX:

    Um, fuck you, I never said that. I said that them being afraid of being fired is one viable option for them not talking, not that it was okay.

    I never said you said anything. I was commenting on your apparent lack of outrage. I guess you reserve your outrage for blog posts and comments, not the possibility of a worker being fired for talking to the press.

  64. 64
    Mark S. says:

    @And Another Thing…:

    If it’s a HAZMAT site, or for other reasons dangerous, the cops and the Coast Guard can declare an out-of-bounds line. BP has no effing right to tell anyone, whether they are reporters or not, that they cannot go on a PUBLIC beach or to stay out of PUBLIC water.

    This.

  65. 65

    @Ned Ludd:

    Rhetoric aside, “the public” does not actually own public land. Try to argue that you own the public park that has a “park closes at dark” sign on it if you get cited for being there after dark, or get ticketed for bringing alcohol to a park that doesn’t allow alcoholic beverages on the premises sometime and see how that works for you.

  66. 66

    To attempt to find an analogy here, suppose a couple of tanker trucks collided on I-81 running through western Virginia. The hazardous materials in the truck required extensive cleanup that could only be accomplished by the company that owned the tanker trucks.

    Even though I-81 is “public land,” the police will shut off the highway and not allow anyone (press included) into the area until the hazmats are cleaned up (and what a fucking traffic mess that would be!).

    Does that make sense.

  67. 67
    El Tiburon says:

    @gwangung:

    Quietly intercepting workers off work (not break, in sight of BP execs), and asking questions? Probably a right way (or, at least, better way).

    This is exactly what you said.

    So in other words let BP control the beaches and who the press can and can’t talk to. Don’t let the bp execs see what? And why not?

  68. 68

    @sukabi: I agree with BP actions always being message control. And many of the lengths they go to are hideous and could be illegal, and the whole houseboat thing is ugly and may well get uglier keeping these folks holed up like some kind of slave ship. But not all of their tactics are out of line, and there are good reasons for at least this one with the beach and reporters stampeding a hazmat zone that BP will likely be liable for causing any kind of illness to reporters, or anyone else. I don’t have time to look up the laws on declaring hazmat zones, or if it has been done legally, or if it can be done. If the reporters feel their rights have been violated then they need to take it to court, and I am guessing they will. The point is, it is not just a usual environment for allowing people in to be exposed to toxic stuff. Now whether or not BP is within legal limits, I am not sure, but on this one instance, I agree with keeping reporters off the beaches and away from distracting this race against time. If they can find where the workers live, and stake out their houses like so many packs of Hyena’s we have seen them do, then that is a different thing, even if sickening to watch.

  69. 69
    El Tiburon says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:
    This is not the correct analogy. The reporter said that in the linked story. He said if the police, coast guard or military told him to leave, he would . This was a security guard in the employee of bp. This beach is not an immediate threat in the same sense of a chemical spill or nuclear leak.

  70. 70
    RinaX says:

    @El Tiburon:

    I’m not sure I made this clear earlier, but you can most sincerely fuck off with a vengeance. Thanks.

  71. 71
    Ned Ludd says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: Those workers are doing work for us, the American people. BP is our subcontractor. We have an absolute right to know whatever we want from those workers – how many hours they work, what kind of training they receive, what sort of respirator and protective equipment they are given, etc.

    We also have a right to know what they see during the clean-up of our wetlands and beaches. Is BP doing a thorough job, or just cleaning the most visible parts and leaving muck where they think people won’t see it? Are they disposing of the hazardous waste properly, or burying it somewhere in unlined landfills?

    This is our clean-up operation. BP works for us. The federal government (which represents the American people) should ensure the clean-up operation is as transparent as possible and make sure workers can speak freely, without fearing repercussions from BP.

  72. 72
    Maude says:

    @kay:
    The media is complaining. It’s about them, not the GOM. It’s like not being able to go with Obama to a sports event his daughter was playing in. that was Dana Millbank.
    It is also, the “reporters” want to be a part of the story, like when they stand in front of a camera during a hurricane. It has nothing to do with news.

  73. 73
    gwangung says:

    @El Tiburon: As I said, stupid. Probably not even up to Villager level.

    I have no time to waste with morons.

  74. 74

    @Ned Ludd:

    Those workers are doing work for us, the American people. BP is our subcontractor. We have an absolute right to know whatever we want from those workers – how many hours they work, what kind of training they receive, what sort of respirator and protective equipment they are given, etc.

    No they are not. They are spending their money. We have not nationalized their company, though the 1990 law gives the feds a general supervisory role over the operations on going. But that would not include how BP manages it’s employees on personnel matters, or their banning them from talking to reporters, lest they get fired. The feds are the same way. I have been involved as a fed in environment disasters, though much smaller, and there was strict protocols on who could talk to the press, and what they could say.

  75. 75
    El Cid says:

    On public property, a corporation can require (as a condition of employment) employees not to speak with reporters, but it can’t prevent the reporters from asking, any more than it can prevent passersby from asking questions.

  76. 76
    kay says:

    @El Tiburon:

    But a deputy sheriff was on site:

    Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies eventually intervened and Walker asked a group of workers if they wanted to talk. The guards followed Walker to a tent where the workers had gathered and told them they didn’t have to speak if they didn’t want to.

    The article leaves the impression that the contractor was operating independently of local law enforcement. That doesn’t appear to be true. The reporter seemed to acknowledge that the 100 foot access restriction was valid. Where did that order come from?
    I can’t even determine what happened from this article, and I don’t know how many deputy sheriffs there are in that parish, but are you saying each directive to the press has to come from a deputy sheriff?
    The contractor wouldn’t answer the reporters question regarding who was granting him authority, but doesn’t the presence of the deputy possible indicate that it came from local law enforcement?
    Not that we’d ever know from the article, of course.

  77. 77

    @El Tiburon:
    First, I didn’t specify what kind of spill it was, just that the government had to use a private company to do the cleanup. Second, given the amount of coast that is being impacted, and the limited number of public officials (police, coasties, etc.) who are available, I can’t say I find it particularly troubling that BP is using private security on beaches. Perhaps that is a question for Gen. Allen. Would that some enterprising reporters could get to him and ask him about those things.

    That said, I have been very close to two events which drew national media attention, a church shooting and a school shooting, and I can tell you that the national press does themselves no favors in these kinds of situations. When they’re not moving about like a herd of buffalo, they’re breaking off and doing stupid shit because they want that “scoop.”

    Not all reporters are that way, but there are enough of them to put people off, even in a story this important.

    Disclaimer: None of this excuses the dickish behavior of BP throughout this whole thing. I hope there are perp walks, jail time and billions paid to the people of the gulf coast for this collossal fuck up.

  78. 78
    Ned Ludd says:

    @Brien Jackson: Have you ever belonged to a credit union? The members own the credit union. That does not mean that any member-owner can show up at midnight to withdraw some money. The owners agree upon rules, or elect people to run the business and create the rules – rules such as hours of operation.

    The American people own the public lands. We elect the government to run the lands for us. And if public officials create rules that are not in our interest, we need some new elected officials.

  79. 79
    steve says:

    God forbid I should defend BP, but I used to be in a job where I had to deal with the occasional reporter (or “journalist” as they prefer to be called). I speak from experience when I say that having reporters invade a workplace is INCREDIBLY disruptive. They can be quite rude, belligerent, and obstinate, and they all behave as if they’re the next Bob Woodward looking to rip the lid off something.

    They’ve already decided what their narrative is going to be, and their goal is to get employees to blurt out things that will make good quotes or sound bites to support that narrative. They usually go after low-level employees who are less experienced in dealing with the media. I was often astonished to see newspaper stories about my workplace in which most of the information was inaccurate or dead wrong, and some minor functionary’s blathering was quoted as if it was authoritative. Once in a while they would find their way to me, but it never went well. I vividly remember a reporter and her cameraman turning away from me in undisguised disgust when I wouldn’t say what she wanted.

    I have no love for BP and their motives are highly suspect here, but there’s nothing new or odd about companies not wanting their employees questioned while they’re working.

  80. 80
    frankdawg says:

    I read because of the heat & humidity workers are only allowed to work 20 minutes every hour I would thing interviews wouldn’t take much of the 40 minutes resting in the shade. I doubt that BP wants no interviews because it would interfer with the work.

    Anyone else here ever do farm work? Admittedly we worked slowly & took a very long break in the afternoons when it got really hot but 20 minutes of each hour? Really?

  81. 81
    kay says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Just in the interest of information, wouldn’t it have been wise for the reporter to ask the sheriff’s deputy if the order was valid?
    Wouldn’t that make sense? I’m not even talking about at the time. I’m talking about before releasing this article. The reporter was there. The deputy was there.
    Because that’s the question. Under whose authority are BP contractor’s acting? If they’re acting “under color” of local law enforcement, that’s a whole different issue.
    But we don’t know. The sheriff’s deputy just appeared in the 5th paragraph, “intervened” (in what fashion, we aren’t told) and was never nor heard from again.
    That’s an important distinction, if the issue is public v private. The state actor was there. What the hell did he say about all this?

  82. 82
    Ned Ludd says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    We have not nationalized their company, though the 1990 law gives the feds a general supervisory role over the operations on going.

    “Supervise” means they work for us. You seem to think “supervise” means asking “pretty please” and letting them hide the clean-up operation from public eyes.

    If the law makes the government powerless over BP, then Obama should be shouting from the rooftops to change the law so the government has complete supervisory control over the clean-up operation.

    BP caused the disaster. They don’t get to right the rules on the clean-up.

  83. 83
    El Tiburon says:

    @kay:
    I think it is very clear, not just from this article, but from various press reports and other incidents that BP is attempting to control the press. I don’t think BP has that right. And I don’t think the toft has that right unless in extreme situations. I mean we are guaranteed a free press in the constitution, right?

    I would expect outrage over this, especially around here. Exept from rinax and gwadong. They are Nazis and trolls with bad breath.

  84. 84

    @Ned Ludd: If you are going to chop off part of my comment on this to make a wankers point, then just unkindly fuck off. I said “general” supervisory role, that doesn’t include BP personnel matters.

  85. 85
    Zach says:

    Walker was eventually able to go over to the tent after an intervention from an official in the sheriff’s office, but none of the workers would talk to him, since the security official was telling them that they didn’t have to say anything.

    How can anyone at Think Progress write this and not realize the irony that this is exactly what idiots like Andy McCarthy say happens when you Mirandize someone. “What? You mean I don’t have to talk? Wow!”

    They didn’t talk to him because, as per the video, he was a dick. He even initiated a physical confrontation by walking ahead anyway; that’s activism, not journalism. Every person who has to shoo away reporters is one less person who could be helping.

  86. 86
    El Tiburon says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:
    Nobody is faulting bp for using private contractors.

    Once again, this all boils down to bp censoring the press without the authority to do so. This is public land and the press has a right to be there.

  87. 87
    AhabTRuler says:

    @kay: The writing is sloppy and inexact, but the implication is that the security guard was overruled:

    Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies eventually intervened and Walker asked a group of workers if they wanted to talk.

    The reporter was allowed to ask the questions, but the workers declined to speak. That doesn’t sound like the cop told the new crew to get bent.

  88. 88
    sneezy says:

    @gbear:

    “press shouldn’t be allowed to go splooshing around in the muck, as much for their own safety as the possibility they’ll do more damage inadvertently. People in that area should know what they’re doing.”

    The U.S. Army can embed reporters with combat troops, but BP can’t safely and responsibly allow reporters near an oil spill?

    Nonsense. It’s not that they can’t do it, it’s that they don’t want to (for obvious reasons.) They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with that.

  89. 89
    Fern says:

    @frankdawg: Well, heat, humidity and toxic fumes.

  90. 90

    @El Tiburon:

    BP is attempting to control the press. I don’t think BP has that right. And I don’t think the toft has that right unless in extreme situations. I mean we are guaranteed a free press in the constitution, right?

    Well, yes and no. BP has every right to *try* to control the images the press reports. Whether they should (I don’t believe they should) is another matter, a moral or ethical matter.

    We are guaranteed the government shall make no laws abridging the freedom of the press. There is a subtle difference. That said, the press has every right to *try* to get through BP’s attempts to control the message. And the government has every right to make BP give more access if they deem it safe and acceptable.

    In the broad sense, BP is no different than a pro sports team in restricting access to players in the locker room or during a game.

    In short, this is not a First Amendment issue. Don’t make it into one.

  91. 91
    El Tiburon says:

    @Zach:
    No law against being a dick. Again, I want my reporters to be dicks and get the story.

    We can’t just get rid of the press because they are being intrusive. That is their job. Or at least It used to be.

    Sure would have been nice to have some big dicks in the press leading to the invasion of Iraq.

  92. 92
    kay says:

    @El Tiburon:

    I don’t think it’s clear at all. The original breathless reporting came from the photographer who wanted to fly lower in restricted air space. That was state actors enforcing that rule. The Coast Guard and the FAA. You don’t have to tell me that the CG can be officious and rule-bound and a huge pain in the ass, but that isn’t BP controlling access. It’s the federal government. That’s a different issue, but it doesn’t generate as much outrage, so it’s conflated with the “who’s in charge?” issue.
    The rule barring elected reps with press entourage using government “assets” to take trips was in place prior to the spill. It was enforced against a Senator, so got national attention. Again, state actors. BP didn’t write the rule, and BP didn’t enforce the rule.
    The press need to clarify who is doing what. Start there. This article doesn’t do that.
    Is BP controlling access? That’s the question. When I’m told that BP is controlling access, and find out at the end of the article that a sheriff’s deputy (actually, more than one) was on scene, someone is not telling this story.

  93. 93

    @sneezy:
    FWIW, there have been more than 100 reporters “embedded” in various flyovers and boat trips during the course of the spill. There are reporters going out there. You might check out the Unified Command (or whatever their name is) web site and the Coast Guard letter from when CBS first aired their story.

  94. 94
  95. 95

    @El Tiburon: Censoring the press is a concept that can only constitutionally be done by the government. Private companies can and do legally censor the press. Usually by not speaking to them. The issue here is physical access to the company’s workers while they are on the job. I think there are complex legalities involved that need to be sorted out, in light of the toxic environment and BP’s and the state’s liabilities allowing them into that environment. Now if the reporters catch up to them on the way to their cars off the beach, then that is a separate matter. Reporters can ask them questions now that they are not on the job and therefore a captive audience. And the workers can walk away, if they choose. I didn’t read the article, but it sounds like it involved the reporters entering the de facto workplace, a toxic beach.

  96. 96
    Zach says:

    @Ned Ludd:

    BP caused the disaster. They don’t get to right the rules on the clean-up.

    Which is why they aren’t writing the rules. There are a lot of misperceptions about how the cleanup effort is managed. There was a very good CNN story on Friday, I think, about the spill command center.

    Here’s a clip that I hadn’t seen about the effort to stop the spill: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2010.....nd-center/

    Here’s the clip I saw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eugGKzKef8M

  97. 97
    El Tiburon says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Well, yes and no. BP has every right to try to control the images the press reports.

    Um, not on a public beach they don’t.

    And the government has every right to make BP give more access if they deem it safe and acceptable.

    I think the govt ordered this so, unless I’m incorrect.

    In the broad sense, BP is no different than a pro sports team in restricting access to players in the locker room or during a game.

    Not if those NFL players are strolling down a public beach.

    In short, this is not a First Amendment issue. Don’t make it into one.

    I’m not. BP is.

  98. 98
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    At this point, I think it’s wise not to give BP any benefit of the doubt.

  99. 99
    El Tiburon says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:
    I have no problem with anything you said. This is a bit different. A security guard on behalf of bp was trying to control a reporter without the authority to do so on a public beach during a crisis.

    Now, that security guard may be able to control the workers, but not that reporter.

  100. 100
    Zach says:

    @El Tiburon: “I want my reporters to be dicks and get the story.”

    I want them to get the story, but don’t have much patience for exploring their dickitude on film. It doesn’t add a thing. This is why I dislike Olbermann as well. Anyway, my point was that the workers probably didn’t chat with him because he was being a dick and going chest to chest with their boss for some absurd reason a few minutes earlier.

  101. 101

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    Censoring the press is a concept that can only constitutionally be done by the government. Private companies can and do legally censor the press

    sloppy grammar on my part. That should be “illegally” done by the government. There is no legal concept of censorship as an illegal act outside of the government doing it by hindering free speech. Though there are illegal acts of non full disclosure when it is bound by law or contract. If this is wrong our legal eagles can correct.

  102. 102

    @El Tiburon:

    Um, not on a public beach they don’t.

    And I think this is where the crux of the disagreement seems to be. Yes, it is a public beach. But it’s also a hazardous materials cleanup site, where a company is attempting to accomplish a time-sensitive task (cleaning up the beach) under adverse conditions (hot, humid, potentially dangerous fumes).

    So while under normal conditions, the beach would be open to the public (since it’s a public beach), the circumstances at the present time, limit access to said beach.

    Would you like to just open the beach up to anyone who wants to come by and grab a jar full of oil for their mantle? It’s a public beach, after all. I realize that’s the extreme example, but that’s basically the end point of your argument.

    I and another commenter made a perfectly reasonable suggestion earlier: Appoint a pool reporter/camera crew to go into the restricted area and shoot footage and work with the crews to find some people to interview and then share footage with the other news outlets. Problem solved.

    But I don’t see any problem with restricting access to a beach that is fouled by hazardous materials (press included).

    Also, fwiw, as I mentioned unthread, BP is not doing all the cleanup. From earlier press reports, they are subcontracting some of this cleanup, so I’d be interested to know if press are having the same problem with the subcontractors.

  103. 103
    Zach says:

    @El Tiburon: Do I have a right to walk into a crime scene if the police rope off a public place? By your logic, people have the right to go roll around in the oil and chase off the birds before workers clean them off. Public beaches can be closed to the public; I’m just guessing that, if oil’s washing up on shore significantly, that beach is closed.

  104. 104
    El Tiburon says:

    @kay:

    Is BP controlling access? That’s the question. When I’m told that BP is controlling access, and find out at the end of the article that a sheriff’s deputy (actually, more than one) was on scene, someone is not telling this story.

    I think it is quite evident has been attempting to control the scene from day one.

    Yes, a deputy showed up. I don’t get why this matters as to the veracity of the reporter?

  105. 105
    Ned Ludd says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: I work for a “general” contractor. We have a “general” supervisory role over our subcontractors. By “general”, I mean we give orders to the subcontractor, and they give orders to their employees (or sub-subcontractors).

    However, the subcontractor works under whatever rules we put in place. We have 100% control. We can mandate what insurance they carry, what gear their employees wear, if their employees can smoke at the job site, and what training their employees must complete. We can require that their employees talk to us – and we sure as hell do.

    “General” supervisory means we run the show. The subcontractor does not get to decide if their employees talk to us. The subcontractor does not get to decide where we go on the job site. We do.

  106. 106

    @El Tiburon:

    Workers would get fired if they talked to the press:

    Yeah, it sucks. Now what?

    If you are willing to lead the first foray of the Revolution, I’ll listen to you. I’d probably follow you, too.

    But if not, if you aren’t going to risk life and limb and the groceries for your family in order to change the power structure in this world, why don’t you just mosey along?

  107. 107
    gwangung says:

    At this point, I think it’s wise not to give BP any benefit of the doubt.

    They shouldn’t be, but it’s also probably not wise to bull in directly, if you don’t know what you’re doing (see the examples with the wildlife first aid stations). That, of course, plays into the hands of BP. Being knowledgeable about what’s going on takes some time, but while it takes time, it allows you to focus your efforts where it’ll do some good.

  108. 108

    Public beaches on Lake Michigan have been shut down numerous times because of e coli in the water. A public health hazard is a public health hazard.

  109. 109
    kay says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Because the real question behind the speculation (and I would be interested in this) isn’t that private actors are controlling access. It’s the private actors under color of local, state or federal government are writing the rules.
    Because if they’re getting an order from the CG, and then announcing “BP is controlling access”, they skipped a step.
    Come on. That isn’t even remotely fair to the Coast Guard.
    So what’s the allegation? There are three possibilities. BP is unlawfully restricting access. BP is lawfully restricting access, under color of state actors. BP is lawfully restricting access, and local, state and federal law enforcement have ceded the power to write the regs to BP.
    I don’t even know what they’re alleging.

  110. 110

    @El Tiburon: I agree that as a pure legal matter, this is unclear without more knowledge on where the state stands on it. IOW’s can BP restrict access to a hazardous area it has agreed to clean up, thereby accepting liability for the mess. Or has there been any formal declarations by the state that this is a hazmat area. If so, then I think the security guard could be acting with authority. The news orgs need to ask a judge this to get a clear ruling. Or the government state it’s position, as the body responsible for public safety, that can usurp normal rights to public, and sometimes private places.

  111. 111
    gwangung says:

    I want them to get the story, but don’t have much patience for exploring their dickitude on film.

    If they have to be a dick about it, fine. If they’re being dicks and not getting the story, they’re not being a reporter.

  112. 112
    El Tiburon says:

    @Zach:

    Do I have a right to walk into a crime scene if the police rope off a public place? By your logic, people have the right to go roll around in the oil and chase off the birds before workers clean them off. Public beaches can be closed to the public; I’m just guessing that, if oil’s washing up on shore significantly, that beach is closed.

    Are you saying the beach is a crime scene? Then most certainly bp should not be there.

    We are not talking about a mass gaggle of on lookers traipsing around causing more damage. We are talking about the press having access to a public space during a great disaster.

    This beach is not closed. If the authorities choose to close it, then so be it. Regardless, I think the press should still have access.

  113. 113
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Zach:

    I was just about to say that too: I thought the reporter was pretty much a dick.

    I think the guy (and others) seems to have the idea that BP saying it does not prohibit its workers from talking to the media = BP granting the media access to its workers at any time, any place. No. For obvious reasons.

  114. 114
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Zach:

    I was just about to say that too: I thought the reporter was pretty much a dick.

    I think the guy (and others) seem to have the idea that BP saying it does not prohibit its workers from talking to the media = BP granting the media access to its workers at any time, any place. No. For obvious reasons.

  115. 115

    @Ned Ludd: This situation is clearly spelled out in the 1990 oil spill law. It is not like a private company with levels of sub contracting. The federal government has no authority to directly dictate BP workers to do this or that. They can direct BP to address broad objectives, like clean this shit up in a certain location. But not policy of BP workers talking to the press, nor day to day personnel issues.

  116. 116
    El Tiburon says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:
    Ig the beach is deemed so dangerous as to not allow anyone near it unless in special hazmat suits, fine, let them do that. But that is not the case here. I

    No one is even alleging that. Why do you insist on creating scenarios thar don’t fit this situation?

  117. 117
    Keith G says:

    But if there is a story there, where is the new generation reporter willing to pull a Daniel Schorr and get arrested if that’s what it takes?

    Weenie-assed press. We are lost.

  118. 118
    El Tiburon says:

    @Linda Featheringill:
    I am not advocating the workers do anything.

  119. 119
    Emma says:

    Urza: And risk losing their jobs in this economy? Nobody’s going to talk in front of a camera. Jesus. I thought Watergate was the holy grail of these idiots.

    I’m conflicted because I saw what happened to the school where OJ’s kids were going here in Miami during the trial. There were always multiple giant trucks parked right on the road, cameras everywhere, parents couldn’t get their kids into the school. An utter zoo. If that’s what the cleanup people are faced with — international press, national press, regional, local… all with their own equipment, it’s going to resemble the Normandy landing with less organization.

    On the other hand, BP cannot be trusted.

  120. 120
    El Tiburon says:

    @kay:
    Don’t you think if bp had legal authority to restrict access they would plaster it on every singular billboard in a 1,000 mile radius?

    They don’t have authority to restrict, except perhaps in some limited way, the press and their movement.

  121. 121
    El Tiburon says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    The news orgs need to ask a judge this to get a clear ruling. Or the government state it’s position,

    No, I don’t think it is incumbent on the news org, I think it is incumbent upon bp to produce the order.

  122. 122
    tkogrumpy says:

    @El Tiburon: I’ll second that emotion.

  123. 123
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    I’m not so sure about that. To the extent BP is also working as part of the Unified Command, I think there is some overlap.

  124. 124

    @El Tiburon:
    I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I think my comment described the situation pretty accurately.

    And, just an FYI for those who claim the press is not getting access, here’s the Deepwater Horizon Response web site where media avalabilities are listed.

    Notice the number of available tours of cleanup areas, bird cleaning stations, and skimming operations.

    Now, you might say these are all staged photo ops, but it’s hard to state a nice photo op of a shit storm of oil, no matter how you spin it.

  125. 125

    @El Tiburon: Well, obviously they aren’t going to do this if they don’t have one. But I bet they will shortly, most likely from the feds, or the states of location. I doubt Obama, or anyone living down there appreciates hordes of press annoying or delaying picking up oil off their beaches. And also, I don’t automatically believe what I read in the papers, this article included. There may well be legal permissions to keep people off the poisoned beaches. If there isn’t there needs to be IMO.

  126. 126

    That should be “stage” above.

  127. 127

    @Zuzu’s Petals: If that were true, then by practical effect, the US government has nationalized BP, a foreign corp. So I doubt very much the Unified Command could reach all the way down into BP’s Human Resources policy. But I could be wrong, and open to being proven that.

  128. 128
    PeakVT says:

    Apart from access issues: what the heck is the press doing at a beach? Beaches are the easiest to clean up. The press should get its ass in gear and hire a plane or a swamp boat and see what is going on in more sensitive environments.

  129. 129
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: I

    Not saying it reaches all the way down to BP’s personnel policy, but if BP is part of the Unified Command, it is subject to the Unified Command’s rules. As unified commands are generally cooperative public/private efforts between response entities, I don’t see how “nationalization” enters into it.

  130. 130
    worn says:

    Everyone is wrong. BP is our friend. They are merely doing their best under trying circumstances to disseminate accurate & timely information:

    The strategy, says a company spokeswoman, aims to “assist those who are most impacted and help them find the right forms and the right people quickly and effectively.”

    See?

  131. 131
    And Another Thing... says:

    @PeakVT: Word.

  132. 132
    gwangung says:

    @PeakVT:

    Apart from access issues: what the heck is the press doing at a beach? Beaches are the easiest to clean up.

    And easiest and cheapest to get to.

    Hm.

  133. 133

    @Zuzu’s Petals: I guess you will need to be more specific on what you were doubting about my original comment, which was basically whether the feds could direct BP to allow access to it’s workers by the press. As Mr. Ludd was asserting.

  134. 134
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @sukabi:

    BP was caught from the beginning requiring cleanup workers to sign documentation forbidding them to speak to anyone about what was going on period… and when they got called out on it, took that written clause out…

    Actually, the contract specified that the boat owners couldn’t “make press releases, market presentations, or public statements” without BP’s permission.

    This looks like pretty typical language for paid volunteer (and many charter) contracts, meaning that the individual cannot make public statements on behalf of the contracting party (BP) without prior permission. However, a court found that the language was too broadly worded (which may be true), so it was withdrawn. I do notice that Suttles still says workers may not make statements on behalf of BP, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there are reworded contracts out there.

  135. 135
    Ned Ludd says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: Under Section 311 of the Clean Water Act, as amended by the the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, “the President shall direct all Federal, State, and private actions to remove the discharge or to mitigate or prevent the threat of the discharge.” I would like to see evidence that he is somehow constrained in this supervisory authority over BP, as you are claiming.

  136. 136
    sukabi says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: sure, but it’s generally NOT the company that is brought in to clean up the hazardous waste… it’s the local fire department’s and other local agencies that deal with the clean up…. in this case (BP’s oil gusher) the local fire departments have been left out of the clean up response effort… they’ve asked repeatedly to be let in to help clean up the beaches but have been ignored by BP.

  137. 137
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    Ah, I see. Sorry for not being clear. I was talking about the command relationship in general.

    However, it seems to me that if there were a conflict between BP’s employee policy and that of the unified command, the latter would prevail. In much the same way that if BP were contracting to work with an agency that required all employees to adhere to a dress code that BP didn’t normally have. Or even the larger case where BP pays its employees working on US sites according to US laws and regs.

    Not super great analogies, but maybe you see my meaning.

  138. 138
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Ned Ludd:

    VEry good point.

  139. 139
    gwangung says:

    Under Section 311 of the Clean Water Act, as amended by the the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, “the President shall direct all Federal, State, and private actions to remove the discharge or to mitigate or prevent the threat of the discharge.” I would like to see evidence that he is somehow constrained in this supervisory authority over BP, as you are claiming.

    Not sure that supports your point, either. A court could very well hold that applies to broad strategies, and not management of personnel.

  140. 140
    tkogrumpy says:

    @El Tiburon: Hell it would have been nice to have a press during the goddam Nixon administration. If you think “Watergate” was a shining example of journalism, your not paying attention.

  141. 141
    Ned Ludd says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: Nationalization is when the government seizes or buys a company’s assets. The company ceases to be owned by private investors. It becomes publicly owned. If it is 100% nationalized, private stock ceases to exist.

    It’s amazing that you think ordering a company around, ordering it to allow its employees to talk to you, is the same as seizing the company’s assets.

  142. 142

    @Zuzu’s Petals:

    In much the same way that if BP were contracting to work with an agency that required all employees to adhere to a dress code that BP didn’t normally have. Or even the larger case where BP pays its employees working on US sites according to US laws and regs.

    My impression is that BP realizes it is in an existential place of threat right now with public relations and it’s brand name getting so tarnished that it may not survive. They are not afraid of the government so much, as the impression that they are not working in good faith to fix the mess they made. It took awhile for them to get knocked off their high horse, and they still hedge out of reflex, but since this has dragged on and the well isn’t capped, I think there is a lot more cooperation with the Unified Command there than may not have been earlier. And for those reasons, they may be more responsive to federal wishes, even on personnel matters, even if they don’t think it is required of them. But I think they will get agreement on keeping the public and voracious reporters off the beaches where their workers are working, if they don’t already have that authority.

  143. 143

    @sukabi: I saw that story too, and I too would like a good answer for that. I can’t think of one.

    In this entire thread, I have never said I excuse BP for all the boneheadedly stupid shit they’ve done.

    That said, I’ve also seen at least three different people plying their oil spill cleanup ideas on Hardball, and I’m sure the BP/Spill Response Command are inundated constantly with similar schemes, gizmos and crackpot ideas (nuclear bomb, anyone?).

    I guess the ultimate point I’m trying to get at is that not every person working on this oilcano is evil, or part of a vast conspiracy to keep information from the public. And not every action that is taken by someone with a BP logo on their shirt (or subcontracting for BP) is done for nefarious reasons.

  144. 144
    tkogrumpy says:

    @El Tiburon: Hell it would have been nice to have a press during the goddam Nixon administration. If you think “Watergate” was a shining example of journalism, your not paying attention. @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

  145. 145

    @Ned Ludd: Your reading comprehension is poor. I said “in practical effect” not literally.

    It’s amazing that you think ordering a company to allow its employees to talk to you, like happens all the times on construction sites, is the same as seizing a company’s assets.

    Again, in practical effect, and for the purposes of usurping BP authority to day to day supervise it’s own employees, that for that limited arena be IN PRACTICAL EFFECT like nationalizing them. Jeebus.

  146. 146
    D-Chance. says:

    I can’t think of any organization from McDonalds to the CIA that would allow the media to just march on in the middle of operations and start questioning employees.

    If Mickey D’s spilled millions of gallons of oil in one of its stores, I’ll guaran-damned-tee you the media would be marching into the middle of operations to ask what the Hell was going on…

    and no pundit anywhere would be questioning them for doing so.

  147. 147
    Lex says:

    Well, first of all, BP should be nationalized for the duration of this crisis — which, I understand, may be decades. Tough noogies for the Scottish widows.

    Second, the national news operations ought to long ago have assembled a tiger team of lawyers, sent one to every county where reporters have been refused access to public property, and filed for a court order in every jurisdiction where reporters were interfered with that barred BP, law enforcement and anybody else with a bad attitude and an F in civics from interfering with journalists or any other citizens on public property.

    The cost would be less than Punch Sulzberger’s weekly bar tab, the public benefit would be significant, and the likely increase in national esteem for news media would help ease the financial pain.

  148. 148
    Lex says:

    To clarify: BP certainly has the right to tell its workers not to talk to the media, even off-duty. As a PR professional I think that would be an extraordinarily bad move for them right now, but they do have that right.

  149. 149

    @Ned Ludd: You are conflating federal authority over BP as a company in such situations with BP’s rank and file employees. The unified chain of command does not go directly from The Coast Guard, to joe blow out on the beach scooping up oil. It stops with BP management to receive such orders from the feds when they are lawful, and then BP ordering it’s employees to do the work and supervise them doing that work, which shall not include spending time chatting with reporters, unless BP management allows it. And even if the government did have the authority to order the workers to talk to the press, they wouldn’t exercise it. The government is more tight lipped and fanatical than BP about PR, or any corporation when it comes to it’s chain of command and underlings yapping to the press. I know this from personal experience.

  150. 150
    Ned Ludd says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: We could direct our subcontractors to talk to the press and to allow their employees to talk to their press, without seizing control of their assets.

    If we wanted to, we could require that each one of their employees that works on our job site spend 15 minutes talking to Anderson Cooper every single day (provided Mr. Cooper is available).

    We don’t have to takeover their company. We just add the requirement to the contract that they sign with us.

  151. 151
    tkogrumpy says:

    @El Tiburon: You know, you may think you are advancing this discussion, but you are not. What you are doing is bringing this thread to a schreeching halt over and over again, making any attempt to follow the thread tedious in the extreme. In my opinion the other long suffering commenters whose posts you have been first, misinterpreting and then, picking apart have been extremely patient with you Me, Not so much.

  152. 152

    @Ned Ludd: I said nothing about seizing assets and did not say BP be formally and completely nationalized in the literal legal sense. Maybe you don’t know what “practical effect” means.

    I doubt we could nationalize of foreign corp, Talk about an international incident from hell.

  153. 153
    D-Chance. says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Even though I-81 is “public land,” the police will shut off the highway and not allow anyone (press included) into the area until the hazmats are cleaned up (and what a fucking traffic mess that would be!).

    And, there will be a dozen or more helicopters with film crews covering every movement of every worker down there. And it will be broadcast live on every cable news outlet.

  154. 154
    Ned Ludd says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: This is such nonsense. Requiring a subcontractor to allow their employees to talk to reporters does not have the “practical effect” of seizing the company’s assets. The owners of BP stock would be wiped out if the government seized the company. That’s the “practical effect” of nationalization.

  155. 155
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    Last first, I agree that BP likely has the right to draw the line on media interference with its operations, and think there is probably agreement all the way up the line.

    As to BP’s relationship with the Unified Command, it appears to go beyond the “cooperative” nature I’d suggested earlier. It seems that as the “responsible party,” BP is required to comply with Unified Command policy:

    40 USC Sec. 300.105 …. (d) The basic framework for the response management structure is a system (e.g., a unified command system) that brings together the functions of the Federal Government, the state government, and the responsible party to achieve an effective and efficient response, where the OSC maintains authority.

    “OSC” means on-scene coordinator, by the way. That whole chapter of the regs lays out the various requirements in good detail…including policy for public information generally.

  156. 156

    @Zuzu’s Petals: It all depends on where you draw the line for what is to coordinated. And coordinate does not state nor imply direct supervision of BP employees, nor does it usurp BP’s own chain of command for doing so. And I really really doubt it goes to who BP employees can talk to. If you are arguing that the 90 law gives the OSC/government basically plenary power over BP and it’s operations, then that is in fact nationalization in practical effect, imo. I doubt the law goes that far, but I could be wrong. When I get the time, I will research it some.

  157. 157
    Emma says:

    Lex: If you think that any of today’s “press” is likely to do that kind of real work…. I want some of whatever you’re smoking.

    This whole thing is about their wanting to posture in front of the cameras and get their names up there so when the next “talking head” chair at CNN or Fox opens up they get a shot at it.

    It’s the same here when there’s a hurricane. Always a bunch of idiots standing on a beach where stuff is blowing every which way, pontificating as if we hadn’t heard the same thing every hour on the hour for the whole day.

  158. 158

    @Ned Ludd: We are broadcasting from different planets dude, I have no idea how your logic works nor what you are talking about, and it is apparently mutual. end of discussion.

  159. 159
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    I didn’t mean to imply the law/reg gave the govt plenary power over BP’s internal affairs, merely that BP must comply with these provisions.

  160. 160
    Ned Ludd says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: Remember Senator Franken’s amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill, which prohibits defense contractors from having their employees sign mandatory arbitration clauses? Even though the legislation prohibits certain language from appearing in defense companies’ employment contracts, it does not have the “practical effect” of nationalization.

    You are arguing that any action the government took to regulate BP’s employment contracts would have the effect of nationalizing the company, which clearly is not the case.

  161. 161
    kay says:

    @El Tiburon:

    It matters a lot. Did the contractor summon the deputy? That indicates the contractor is conveying a lawful order. Did the reporter summon the deputy? Then we need to know if the deputy verified the authority of the contractor, or contradicted it. Was the deputy on scene? Then BP isn’t restricting access, local law enforcement is.
    It might be a good question why the deputy is restricting access, but that isn’t what this story is about.
    I didn’t say the reporter was lying. I said he’s not telling you anything you need to know. There’s one constant in these “BP is restricting access” stories, they raise 15 new questions that someone interested in what happened
    wants to know.
    Before traveling to the beach, can media find out 1. what are the rules, 2. who wrote the rules, and 3. who is (actually) enforcing the rules?
    Why is the single state actor who was on scene not quoted?
    He could answer these questions.

  162. 162
    El Tiburon says:

    @tkogrumpy:
    You miss my point completely. Nixon would love a lot of the posters around here who seem to want the bothersome press to leave bp alone.

  163. 163
    El Tiburon says:

    @kay:

    When I’m told that BP is controlling access, and find out at the end of the article that a sheriff’s deputy (actually, more than one) was on scene, someone is not telling this story.

    Am I missing something? Isn’t the point of this entire thread to discuss bp controlling access? That’s what the reporter said, and if you go the tp link, they link to other stories of bp trying to restrict access. This is not in dispute.

  164. 164
    kay says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Yes, a deputy showed up. I don’t get why this matters as to the veracity of the reporter?

    It matters because the reporters first question was (in so many words) “under what authority? and that has been the focus of the argument here: that BP is a private actor and doesn’t have any authority to restrict access to a public beach.

    The reporter never answered that question. The person to ask would be the deputy.

    My complaint all along here has been that no one covering this story bothered to spend an hour figuring out how the Oil Pollution Act works, the framework that scheme laid out, before BP was involved. You cannot understand what’s happening here without that. It’s the structure of the whole response. How can you determine if BP is violating the law or “running” the response if you don’t know how it’s supposed to work? You can object to that framework, but you can’t say someone isn’t following it, unless you know the basics.

  165. 165
    El Tiburon says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    And, just an FYI for those who claim the press is not getting access,

    I have not seen anyone here make that claim, although I haven’t read every post.

    I think some of the press has been very good. And BP can’t be everywhere all the time.

  166. 166

    @Ned Ludd: Private companies have the legal right to have there employees sign a non disclosure agreement. The federal government does not have the legal right to prevent that. Bp took it out of their contract because it looked bad on them, and rightly figured they looked bad enough. The federal government does not have the right to force a company to have it’s employees speak to the press, period.

    They also do not have the right imo, to bypass BP’s internal chain of command, as that is part of the unified chain of command at work here, to directly supervise BP’s employees on the ground, unless BP agrees to it. That is not coordinating, that is taking control completely, but the feds have no legal right to force their will in this way. They can force the company as an entity to do certain things allowed under the 90 law, but not to circumvent BP’s chain of supervisory command to it’s employees. It the government forces it’s will to do so, then that is for the limited purposes, the feds taking over a private companies work force directly and would be a de facto, or in practical effect a nationalizing Bps work force in the gulf. Where is my rubber mallet. If you can’t grasp this I will brain you with it, then myself :-)

  167. 167
    kay says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Is BP acting within or without the confines of the Oil Pollution Act?
    Are they acting within the orders of the unified command?
    if they are, you’re not objecting to BP. You’re objecting to the state actor.
    You can do that, absolutely, but you can’t keep saying “BP is….” is they’re acting within the unified command. Your beef is with the Coast Guard, or the EPA, or local law enforcement, or the Oil Pollution Act itself.

  168. 168
    El Tiburon says:

    @kay:
    So now a reporter has to review laws and do research to figure out who is in control on a public beach?

    I don’t think so.

    It is very simple: the press has a right guaranteed by a multitude of laws to do their job. Their job is not to review every piece of legoslation to see if they can access a public space and speak to another person.

    You can be sure if there was a way to keep the press,out, the govt would. I think the govt wants to control this as well.

    Why do so many of you insist on making this so difficult?

  169. 169
    El Tiburon says:

    @tkogrumpy:

    In my opinion the other long suffering commenters whose posts you have been first, misinterpreting and then, picking apart have been extremely patient with you Me, Not so much

    Pot can’t get much blacker, kettle.

  170. 170
    El Tiburon says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    I doubt Obama, or anyone living down there appreciates hordes of press annoying or delaying picking up oil off their beaches. And also, I don’t automatically believe what I read in the papers, this article included.

    Ok, I guess we can agree that the press is a pain in the ass. It doesn’t change anything. And I have not seen anything saying the press is delaying anything.

    That you don’t automatically believe all you read doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Enough reports have surfaced describing bp’s attempts to restrict access when they don’t have the authority to do so.

  171. 171
    gwangung says:

    @kay:

    Is BP acting within or without the confines of the Oil Pollution Act?
    __
    Are they acting within the orders of the unified command?
    if they are, you’re not objecting to BP. You’re objecting to the state actor.
    __
    You can do that, absolutely, but you can’t keep saying “BP is….” is they’re acting within the unified command. Your beef is with the Coast Guard, or the EPA, or local law enforcement, or the Oil Pollution Act itself.

    Basically, you’re asking reporters to do some basic research so they know what kind of questions to ask and who to ask them of.

    Seems kinda fundamental, hm?

  172. 172
    trollhattan says:

    Sorry if this has been covered up-thread, but it would be pretty easy for a news organization to give a camera to a suited up person with a 40-hour HAZWOPER card and send them into an exclusion zone, presuming we’re talking exclusion zone here. You could do it on a pool basis and share the footage.

    The gummint ought to be doing whatever possible to keep the public informed on every aspect of this mess, and an eye on the cleanup is a huge part of the story.

    As to the relative hazard to the cleanup workers, there certainly is one, especially with long-term exposure, but I also have to believe a lot of the volatile fraction of that oil is already gone by the time the goop hits shore, so with proper training and PPE, the hazard is easily manageable. Somebody with a camera who isn’t actually handling the material is at even less of a risk.

  173. 173
    Corner Stone says:

    This thread makes me haz a sad.

  174. 174
    Person of Choler says:

    You might want to check if the folks who claim to have a boot on BP’s throat are influencing BP’s behavior.

  175. 175
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @El Tiburon:

    No, a reporter doesn’t have to research every law and regulation before going down to the beach to cover the spill cleanup. All he or she has to do is pick up the phone and call the unified command joint information center, set up especially for that purpose.

    But if that reporter is going to scream “what authority do you have, young man??!!” as part of his or her story, then yes, he or she has the responsibility to actually, you know, research the law.

    SASQ

  176. 176
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals:

    Sorry, that cite was to 40 CFR Sec. 300.105, not 40 USC etc. Link is okay, though.

  177. 177

    @El Tiburon:

    It is very simple: the press has a right guaranteed by a multitude of laws to do their job. Their job is not to review every piece of legoslation to see if they can access a public space and speak to another person

    The press does not have the right to enter restricted areas if those areas have been placed under restriction by a legitimate state actor. There are court cases and laws about that as well. Which seems to be a point Kay brought up earlier.

    And yes, reviewing legislation to see if they can have access to a public space *is* part of their job, just as much as knowing applicable FOIA laws, invasion of privacy and defamation laws and court cases.

    And, just by the by, can you stop with the “just want the press to leave BP alone” bullshit straw man? Really, it’s unbecoming. Nobody in this thread has said anything remotely like that. This is not RedState where that kind of shit will work.

  178. 178
    El Tiburon says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Speaking of straw men. There is no evidence that this beach has been restricted by any state actor. If the beach is restricted, then everyone out until it can be adjudicated properly. That is not the argument here. At all.

    And yes, reviewing legislation to see if they can have access to a public space is part of their job,

    Say what? Are you claiming there is doubt to whether the press can access a public space?

    And And, just by the by, can you stop with the “just want the press to leave BP alone” bullshit straw man? Really, it’s unbecoming. Nobody in this thread has said anything remotely like that. This is not RedState where that kind of shit will work.

    I never said anything remotely like what you just claimed I did.

    The only argument I have consistently made is that no one, not bp, not the govt has the right to restrict the movement of the press unless
    Some just cause by statute or otherwise is in place. I have seen no evidence of that here.

  179. 179
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    I’d also say the media doesn’t have the right to interview workers at a job site, no matter its location.

  180. 180
    El Tiburon says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals:
    Or the reporter can go down to a public space a and do their job until told otherwise by a proper authority. I don’t think foe one second they have to call anyone.

    A bp official is not a proper authority IMHO.

    I don’t think we would be having this discussion if the police or military , etc. Would have instructed the reporter to leave.

  181. 181
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Say what? Are you claiming there is doubt to whether the press can access a public space?

    I can’t tell if you’re spoofing or just deliberately obtuse. Okay, maybe not even deliberately.

  182. 182
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @El Tiburon:

    No, they don’t “have” to call anyone. Only if they are interested in doing their job properly.

  183. 183

    @El Tiburon:

    I never said anything remotely like what you just claimed I did.

    @El Tiburon @162:

    Nixon would love a lot of the posters around here who seem to want the bothersome press to leave bp alone.

    Care to walk back that blatant lie.

    Say what? Are you claiming there is doubt to whether the press can access a public space?

    Yes. I am. Courts have ruled that the press does not have an “unfettered” right to access to public places.
    And, fwiw, here’s the latest from Thad Allen (AP via “new media” outlet HuffPo, which I can’t link to or my comment will go to mod hell):

    Thad Allen, who is overseeing the federal response to the Gulf oil spill, said that “general guidance” had been issued that there were only two reasons why the media should be prohibited from an area: “If it’s a security reason or a safety reason because of personal protective equipment.”

    Now there are clearly two reasons the government have given why press *can* be restricted from entering an area, even a public beach. What the quibble is here is what exactly was the situation on the ground. The reporter in question eventually got his access.

    Note too this:

    “Now, we can’t tell somebody to talk to somebody they don’t want to. But my policy is, unless it’s a security or safety reason, there is no restriction on access,” Allen said.

    I’m fine with that.

  184. 184
    Jinx says:

    Jeremy Scahill posted this on his blog at the Nation on 5/28.

    He’d just spoken with Naomi Klein, who, after repeated attempts to gain information through official channels, appeared in person at Unified Command where she was turned away by Wakenhut private security forces hired by BP to maintain a perimeter around the area (land and sea).

    In her opinion BP is calling all the shots and controlling all access to the area and information about the spill and cleanup efforts.

    Scahill’s info on one instance among many of Wakenhut’s depraved conduct is worth a read.

  185. 185
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Jinx:

    Well they definitely lost me when they complained about being “on open water” and being told by security they had to leave the area.

    Notice they don’t say where that open water was, but evidently it was close enough to operations that it drew the attention of security. Even if they hadn’t bothered to read any of the joint information center’s media info, their common sense might have clued them in on some of the problems around bringing boats into a recovery area…or do they not have any idea what boat wakes can do to set oil booms? Oil dispersant applications? Wildlife rescue efforts?

  186. 186

    @Jinx:
    I would rather some National Guard types or regular military be guarding those facilities, just for the record.

  187. 187
    kay says:

    @Jinx:

    by Wakenhut private security forces hired by BP to maintain a perimeter around the area (land and se

    From the article you linked to:

    They are traveling around the devastated US Gulf reporting on the horrific disaster caused by BP’s massive oil spill. They described to me a run in that they just had with the private security company Wackenhut, which apparently has been hired to do the perimeter security for the “Deepwater Horizon Unified Command.” The “Unified Command” is run jointly by BP and several US government agencies including the US Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security.

    I honestly don’t get why there is an absolute inability to acknowledge that the unified command consists of federal agencies, or that the basic schematic of this response was laid out well prior to the event, and before BP’s involvement, in 1990, when the law was written.

    The security company are working for the unified command, and the unified command are federal agencies.

  188. 188
    kay says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Would Klein get access if that were the case, though?

    If regular military were providing security, would she be able to interview the people in charge upon arrival? Or would she have been turned away, and sent to a press briefing?

    If they objection is to private contractors, that’s one thing, but if what she wants is access, that’s another. If each and every individual involved were a federal, state or local actor, would she be permitted to arrive and interview?

    Or would she be sent to a press briefing with everyone else?

  189. 189
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @kay:

    Well to be strictly accurate, federal agencies and BP and Transocean. But it operates under govt authority.

  190. 190
    Mnemosyne says:

    Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries started closing public beaches on May 21st.

    It took me two seconds to Google up that information. Anyone else want to continue to try and claim that the beaches are totally open to the public right now?

  191. 191
    TenguPhule says:

    The U.S. Army can embed reporters with combat troops, but BP can’t safely and responsibly allow reporters near an oil spill? Nonsense. It’s not that they can’t do it, it’s that they don’t want to (for obvious reasons.) They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with that.

    Idiot, there is a world of difference between being tucked snug in with troops after being briefed and body armored and going into a hazmat zone without proper protection or procedures.

  192. 192
    Mnemosyne says:

    @El Tiburon:

    So now a reporter has to review laws and do research to figure out who is in control on a public beach?

    Yes. It’s called “doing their fucking job.” There’s more to reporting than showing up and asking whatever question pops into your head.

    Well, there should be, but apparently a lot of reporters agree with you and think there’s no reason for them to do any kind of research before they go to a scene and start interviewing people.

  193. 193
    TenguPhule says:

    The only argument I have consistently made is that no one, not bp, not the govt has the right to restrict the movement of the press unless
    Some just cause by statute or otherwise is in place. I have seen no evidence of that here.

    Hazmat area. That should be the clue.

    If BP is blocking access to people offsite and after hours, then yeah, you’d have leg to stand on.

    But arguing for unfettered Geraldos walking into the middle of what is essentially a big toxic chemical spill cleanup in progress is fucking crazy.

  194. 194
    Mnemosyne says:

    The U.S. Army can embed reporters with combat troops, but BP can’t safely and responsibly allow reporters near an oil spill?

    BP has been doing that for weeks. The current argument is from reporters who don’t want to be restricted to being embedded and want to go off and do their own reporting by talking to cleanup employees and chartering flights into restricted areas.

  195. 195
    Katie says:

    Normal restricted airspace for disasters is a type that allows certain parties within the airspace, namely media and law enforcement. The type of restricted airspace BP got is usually only used for VIP movements, like the president, and other things that are hazardous to pilots like volcanoes. I don’t know how they got the more restrictive type, but seems like it’s just to keep the media out. I wonder who BP sweet talked into getting that. There doesn’t seem to be any inherent hazard to aircraft in an oil spill….

  196. 196
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Katie:

    Sources please?

  197. 197
    NobodySpecial says:

    You people are chasing around molehills and pretending they are mountains.

    The BP guy was wrong, the deputy evidently said so. How do we know this? Because the reporter was granted access.

    So now that we know the BP guy was wrong, why are we throwing up nonsense like closing of beaches for e.coli or police restricting access to hazmat train/truck crashes?

    Private security guard != police, and corporational desire for secrecy != public safety.

  198. 198
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    Did the reporter say the deputy said BP guy was wrong? Why didn’t they show the deputy saying the BP guy was wrong.

    We actually don’t know what transpired here, but if the question is who gave the guard authority to speak in the first place, this article sure hasn’t answered it. Hence the thread.

  199. 199
    El Tiburon says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Care to walk back that blatant lie.

    I said one throw away line out of dozens of posted and you made out to be my central theme and equated that statement to a straw man I was concoting.

    So perhaps you should gain a better understanding of a straw man construct.

  200. 200
    El Tiburon says:

    @NobodySpecial:
    To back-up what you said, the TP article begins with something like, “after denying they were restricting acess, BP harasses a reporter…”

  201. 201
    El Tiburon says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Yes. It’s called “doing their fucking job.” There’s more to reporting than showing up and asking whatever question pops into your head.

    No, there’s not. That is a reporters job. You see they go to where a story is and they start asking questions. That in a nutshellmis their fucking job.

    Their job is not to ask permission or research where a free American may travel int the united states of America. Fucking period.

    In fact I want mynintrepid reporter to go to chemical spills and everywhere the govt tells them NOT to go.

    I still find it so amazing how quickly so many of you are to have the press simply accept what the govt tells them.

    Trust me, when the govt tells the media to stay away, it is not for safety concerns but cover up concerns.

  202. 202
    NobodySpecial says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals:

    Security guard says no talk. Deputy mediates. Reporter goes and talks. How on God’s green earth do you get that the deputy didn’t override the security guard?

    And who has to give a guard authority to speak? Security guards are famous for being their own little Burgermeisters.

  203. 203
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    As I said, we don’t know what transpired. You yourself said the deputy “mediated.” That’s not the same as overriding, is it?

    We do know that the reporter didn’t find whatever the deputy actually said to be worth reporting. Why not?

    As to your last comment…oh please.

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