When we last left Mother Jones' reporter Mac McClelland, she was in the Gulf Coast region, caught up in the surreal tangle of media roadblocks that were being erected by British Petroleum to keep reporters at bay. How have things done since then? Not well, as it turns out!
Indeed, when I ran into some [cleanup workers] packing up on the Grand Isle beach twenty minutes later, I asked them only if they were done working for the day, and they refused to tell me. One woman said, "I can't talk to you," and then another worker ran up to her and grabbed her arm and said, "Just ignore her, ignore her," and the whole interaction was unsettlingly rude and sort of sad. The workers who were staying next to me in my Grand Isle motel last week told me that when BP (not, in this case, and for the record, a subcontractor) had instructed them that they couldn't talk to the press, it'd involved a warning that media organizations would go so far as to dub audio propaganda over their videotaped commentary, putting unflattering words in their mouths.
The New York Daily News' Matthew Lysiak is also in Grand Isle, where he was the fortunate beneficiary of a "surreptitious tour of the wildlife disaster unfolding in Louisiana."
"There is a lot of coverup for BP. They specifically informed us that they don't want these pictures of the dead animals. They know the ocean will wipe away most of the evidence. It's important to me that people know the truth about what's going on here," the contractor said.
"The things I've seen: They just aren't right. All the life out here is just full of oil. I'm going to show you what BP never showed the President."
A dead dolphin, stuffed with oil, figures prominently in the account. It's all very sad, and not a little bit enraging. As Allison KilKenny puts it: "In a sane world, a company guilty of gross negligence that resulted in the deaths of 11 workers would be under criminal investigation, and not be parading around the coast, telling the media where they can go and who they can talk to, while forbidding their clean-up crews from wearing protective gear."
Meanwhile, remember BP CEO Tony Hayward, who this past Sunday said that he "wanted his life back?" Well, he's very sorry about how that must have sounded, to humans:
"I made a hurtful and thoughtless comment on Sunday when I said that "I wanted my life back." When I read that recently, I was appalled. I apologize, especially to the families of the 11 men who lost their lives in this tragic accident. Those words don't represent how I feel about this tragedy, and certainly don't represent the hearts of the people of BP - many of whom live and work in the Gulf - who are doing everything they can to make things right. My first priority is doing all we can to restore the lives of the people of the Gulf region and their families - to restore their lives, not mine."
Naturally, that bit of flackery was emailed to reporters and posted on the BP America Facebook page, in keeping with BP's tradition of keeping anything too troubling as far away from cameras as possible.
"Ignore Her": The BP Press Lockdown Continues [Mother Jones]
Dying, dead marine wildlife paint dark, morbid picture of Gulf Coast following oil spill [New York Daily News]
BP tells cleanup workers no photos of dead, oil-covered marine life [Allison Kilkenny: Unreported]
PREVIOUSLY, on the HUFFINGTON POST:
BP Better At Stemming Journalists Than Oil Wells