Images via the Huffington Post and the AP
By now, enough incidents have been confirmed and/or caught on tape to say that BP is indeed preventing the press from accessing some impacted areas. Reporters from Newsweek, NPR, PBS, CBS, a number of local news organizations, and many more have all been turned away from public beaches and areas. When I was in the Gulf closer to the beginning of the spill, this had already begun to happen, but in the weeks since, it appears that BP has tightened its grip. The question is, what is it that BP is trying to hide from reporters?What does BP have to gain by systematically shutting out the press -- and evidently hiring mercenaries to help do so? I don't ask the question conspiratorially, but rather practically: why does the company think it would play in its favor to acquire (even more of) an image of a draconian corporation, imbuing itself with a culture of secrecy?
After all, plenty of pictures of the oil soaked beaches are already very public. Heartbreaking photos of birds covered in thick oil have already surfaced. Sea turtles and dolphins have already been seen killed by the sludge. The public knows that it's bad, they can see that it's bad. So how much worse than this would a scene have to be for BP to have an interest in actively covering it up?
Well, recent reports are suggesting that many more animals have been killed than currently acknowledged, and that perhaps there are some scenes even more gruesome than the ones documented so far.
A marine toxicolocgist working in the Gulf recently told MSNBC that her, and other groups' efforts to document, study, and help the marine animals have been blocked by a concerted effort from BP: "People who walk the beaches at night, they've seen little baby dolphins wash up dead," but by the morning, there's no sign of them. "Turtle watch volunteers who walk the beaches consistently every morning at 6:00 a.m., they're saying the carcasses are disappearing ... There's reports from offshore of massive kills on the barrier islands from fishermen who have been working on the spill response."
CNN also reports that BP may be hiding dead wildlife from photographers' lenses, and notes that bird rescue centers have been asked to take the tallies of dead birds off of their websites. The Fish & Wildlife Dept. still publishes a daily tally of animals killed in the spill, but there are concerns that it low balls the number.
And if BP would rather broadcast the image that it has something to hide than let journalists onto public beaches, it does make you wonder about what's out there that we're not seeing -- if the worst of the spill has truly been documented and revealed to the public, why the secrecy?
More on the Gulf Oil Spill and the Press
BP Contractors and Coast Guard Prevent CBS From Filming Oil Spill ...
BP Now Owns the Airspace Above the Spill, Too - Bars Journalists