So, is today the day that I'm going to get to happily report that reporters deployed to the Gulf of Mexico are finally free of the strenuous resistance that BP has thrown up in their faces, as they try to cover the oil spill clean up story? Hell no it's not!
Journalists covering the Gulf of Mexico oil spill have been yelled at, kicked off public beaches and islands and threatened with arrest in the nearly three weeks since the government promised improved media access.
Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's point person for the response, issued a May 31 directive to BP PLC and federal officials ensuring media access to key sites along the coast. BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles followed up with a letter to news organizations, saying the company "fully supports and defends all individuals' rights to share their personal thoughts and experiences with journalists if they so choose."
Those efforts have done little to curtail the obstacles, harassment and intimidation tactics journalists are facing by federal officials and local police, as well as BP employees and contractors, while covering the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history.
That's from the Associated Press' Tamara Lush, this afternoon, in New Orleans, who reports that while some media organizations believe the situation is improving, her senior managing editor Michael Oreskes nevertheless felt compelled to send a letter to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs "demanding that President Barack Obama's administration improve media access." Today's letter is just the latest effort on the part of the Associated Press to get some relief from BP's clampdown:
AP first contacted Obama on June 5, outlining its concerns in a letter from President and CEO Tom Curley. Gibbs followed up with a call to AP editors and a written response. If journalists have concerns, Gibbs said, they can call to report their experiences with a joint information center run by the federal government and BP in Houma, La.
Oreskes said he called the number from his office in New York on Tuesday and left a message.
"I'm still waiting for them to call me back," he said.