Image via Indecision Forever
Last week, one of the dominant narratives in the news coverage of the BP Gulf spill was that all the oil from the nearly 200 million gallon spill had just up and disappeared. Good thing Stephen Colbert wasn't buying the line -- he looked a little harder and found all that supposedly "missing" oil.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The Oil Is Missing|
Seriously though, the media's infatuation with this story -- the one where, in various interpretations, all the oil is either hiding out of sight, vanished into thin air, or expertly cleaned up by BP already -- makes me extremely uneasy. A couple important things to remember when you read these stories:
1. Journalists are typically taken for flyovers with the Coast Guard, and may have difficulty spotting the oil from hundreds of feet from above the air. The slick moves, can be dispersed by choppier seas, and can be hard to make out on days of poor visibility. When I flew over the spill -- about a month in, in the thick of the disaster -- it was a little tough to see, too.
2. BP has an interest in pushing the idea that they've cleaned up the oil efficiently and expertly, especially on the heels of the relative goodwill earned from finally capping the leak. It's up to journalists not to buy the story at face value.
Finally, it's important not to jump to any conclusions -- the full brunt of the impact won't be understood for some time now. And any story that doesn't mention the 1.8 million gallons of toxic chemical dispersants dumped into the Gulf, which were designed to make the spill disappear, shouldn't be taken seriously.