Despite the fact that National Incident Commander Thad Allen and BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles have publicly stipulated that the media is to have access to the areas affected by the Gulf oil spill, as well as the workers who are laboring to clean up the beaches, an overall media clampdown continues.
This weekend, WDSU reporter Scott Walker got the full court press from BP's onsite supervisor, leading to this perplexing and infuriating exchange:
BP OFFICIAL: Every single security guard here has given instructions to every single news crew: you can be outside of a hundred yards of the workers on the boom.
WALKER: And who's saying that? Because no one can tell me, unless you are the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, you are the Coast Guard, or you're the military, can you tell me where to go on this public beach.
BP OFFICIAL: I can tell you where to go because I am employed to keep this beach safe. And right now, those are my instructions. I have to keep the workers safe as well.
WALKER: I am going to go and try to talk to a worker under the tent, can I do that?
BP OFFICIAL: No, no.
WALKER: He's on a break.
BP OFFICIAL: You are not allowed to interview any workers.
WALKER: The workers can talk to the media according to the BP CEO two days ago. The word still hasn't trickled down to you all yet?
SECOND BP OFFICIAL: We already heard that one, too.
WALKER: What do you mean you've heard that one? It's true.
BP OFFICIAL: The email did not explicitly give you permission to do that.
WALKER: There are quotes from Doug Suttles that say no one had been barred access to talk to the media, and that it's a misunderstanding and that the word hasn't trickled down to all the appropriate channels yet. That's what he said two days ago. So two days later, that still hasn't trickled down.
BP OFFICIAL: It's been briefed to us...
WALKER: By whom? Who's briefing you all?
BP OFFICIAL: That's not important right now.
What? Do these guys think they have Jedi mind powers or something?
Walker argues his case further, and later in the clip, does attempt to interview the workers in the break tent. Those workers are subsequently instructed by the second BP beach cop on how to refuse an interview and, en masse, they decline to be interviewed.
WDSU goes on to cite Suttles's statement, released to area media outlets: "Recent media reports have suggested that individuals involved in the clean up operation have been prohibited from speaking to the media, and this is simply untrue."
But who are you going to believe? Doug Suttles or your lyin' eyes?
PREVIOUSLY, on the HUFFINGTON POST:
ABC Reporter Hassled By BP: Days After Thad Allen Directed Open Access, Media Clampdown Continues