Is The BP Media Blackout Campaign Endorsed By The White House?

Tyler Durden's picture

On June 9, BP COO Doug Suttles, in response to complaints that the media was being prevented from talking to BP workers, issued a letter (link), in which he said "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 not true." Alas, as the following clip from WDSU, a New Orleans TV station taken several days later demonstrates, the BP public front is just for show, and the media blackout continues. While it is certainly understandable why BP would want to not show off its oil stained laundry, what is more troublesome is that the administration itself may have a finger in this ongoing attempt to prevent the general public from understanding just what is going on. In an AP article from the 16th, we learn that Michael Oreskes, an AP senior managing editor wrote to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Wednesday,
“demanding that President Barack Obama’s administration improve media
access.” "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." Further, we learn from the CJR that Oreskes called the number from his office in New York on Tuesday and left a message, but has not received a response. Is the media blackout campaign a collusive one between BP and our government? If so, the people probably have the right to demand why a member of the administration is not receiving the same idiotic treatment before Congress as CEO's BP had to undergo for 8 hours yesterday.

Full clip


h/t Geoffrey Batt

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ZeroPower's picture

Honestly though, the media is a joke.

Morons on CNN going INTO the oily water, touching it with their fingers, thinking its playdoh. Leave the cleanup shit to the professionals (read: inmates doing community service) and go report on how rosy the economy is.

anynonmous's picture

"From the earliest days of this crisis (before it was a crisis) BP, the Coast Guard and the Administration have downplayed every aspect of this leak. The media from the last few days of April and throughout all of May gave a pass to BP and a pass to the administration by ignoring and minimizing the impacts. There were few if any images of dead wildlife and the network news anchors dutifully read press releases and promoted the marketing jargon of Top Kill etc.  So called experts (academics, the bulk of whose funding comes from lease royalties) were trotted out to endorse the best case scenarios.  The strategy of the administration was clear, this was BP's problem and their media handmaidens allowed such rationale to go unchallenged.


At the six week mark, with the leak going strong and the evidence of a vastly larger leak  overwhelming,  the administration began to pay serious attention and the media replaced their on the scene cub reporters with news anchors decked out in khakis.   Pictures of oil soaked Pelicans began to appear and the rhetoric and anger towards BP and the administration began to build.   The initial 1,000 barrels per day estimates are a distant memory with the latest "estimate" as high as 60,000 and the oil keeps on gushing out.  Conspiracy theories are running rampant and oddly gaining traction as their over the top estimates of 50,000, 60,000 even 100,000 barrels per day back in late April now have credibility.


The latest installments in this tragedy were the Oval Office address, the $20b fund and Thursday's public flogging of Hayward.  The president's speech on Tuesday was the definition of "never let a serious crisis go to waste", where he spent a third of the time talking the climate/energy agenda. The administration has been more focused on financial restitution than mitigation of the leak and its environmental impact. The $20 billion fund is a joke, it is to be paid in installments ($5 billion per year) at a rate half of BP's annual dividend and if you were listening to yesterday's testimony when one congressperson asked about liability for health care costs resulting from the spill, Hayward, with a hint of self satisfaction, deferred to the $20 billion fund and the judgment of its independent arbiter. There was virtually no discussion of how to stop the leak or deal with the cleanup at Thursday's hearing, instead Markey and Waxman exploited the crisis to further their political agenda and Barton from Texas completed the distraction by apologizing to BP. 


We are just about at the two month mark of a disaster far greater than Kartina in economic and environmental terms and no one knows who is in charge.  Ostensibly Thad Allen from the Coast Guard is the lead hand but the organizational chart of Unified Command is as tangled as the wreckage of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig.


It was eleven days after Katrina made landfall when Bush spoke his now infamous words  'Brownie your doing a heck of a job' , three days later Michael Brown was replaced.  Deepwater Horizon sank on April 22 and began to leak, that was 57 days ago.


earnyermoney's picture

Obama's administration is calling the shots. If their signoffs on BP's suggestions work, they'll take the credit if not BP will be flogged by their hacks in the media.

IBelieveInMagic's picture

Who cares! Let us all accept we are hypocrites of the first order. The only President who suggested reducing oil addiction was railroaded and was a one termer (Jimmy Carter). We just like to rave and rant about how the corporation's are irresponsible when all they are doing is serving our greed for low cost oil. Let us just take this disaster as cost of our addiction and go back to watching American Idol.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Too true Ibelieve.
The treadmill life leave too little to no energy for any thing bordering introspection, forget authentic action.

It is so much easier to slip back in mother cultures arms, laz boy, breweski, ball game, tail gate.... hmmmmmmmmhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I'll take the good life while it lasts.

Just a symptom of the times. End times! :-)


SteveNYC's picture

I love how you mention "introspection". A word I often use and contemplate daily, a word that, unfortunately, the average person doesn't even know the fuckin meaning of.

You should put this on a bill-board in Times Square, get the "robots" thinking, perhaps the Google word search count will go up? Won't matter, it takes time and effort to practice introspection, which is far too much for 99.9% of people to bother with.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Interesting eh, Steve?
In the3 good times, introspection could have been the luxury of many in such a rich country.
But everyone was too busy having a good time.
Now it is the privilege of a few. While the goodtimers struggle to make ends meet.

Such are the cycles of our lives.

All good though. Change is afoot.


downwiththebanks's picture

So there's no difference between using too much gasoline and destroying the Gulf of Mexico?

What sickening apologetics.

Cursive's picture

+1.  Degree and proportion are lost on some people.

IBelieveInMagic's picture

There is a direct connection between the two that public at large is overlooking -- is much easier to blame the President as if he were singularly responsible for the disaster. People, let us accept our responsibility also -- Too much use of oil forces us to seek them in very difficult geological locations. So, if we are not willing to voluntarily scale back, we have to accept the fallout of things not going wrong...



ZerOhead's picture

Jon Stewart is showing no mercy lately... same with Stephen Colbert.

Denigrating those in power with humorous ridicule is the silver bullet that pierces the mirage and exposes the truth.

The impact upon those watching is incalculable.

In other news... dead humpback(?) whale is found.... these pictures can't be good for the good folks in Washington B.P.


whatsinaname's picture

I agree. Country has been going downhill in real terms since Carter's era and even more so since 1982 - thats when the middle class started "investing" in stock markets via the 401k / IRA programs.

AUD's picture

Has the oil leak been plugged yet?

Haven't heard much lately.

Cursive's picture

Have you plugged the hole yet daddy?

Glad Barack o' Potus treated us to that little glimpse into his personal life.

ZackAttack's picture

I suspect it's because BP's and the administration's goals are aligned here.

If, as Simmons and others have speculated, the well casing is compromised, the situation can only get worse between now and August and it is increasingly likely that the relief wells will not stop the blowout.

No administration can come out and say aloud that the US's 4th largest economy - whose largest source of revenue is tourism - is screwed. But if this goes on for months longer, it starts to enter the realm of an ELE for the gulf states. No one in their right mind would eat a piece of seafood, buy a piece of real estate, spend their vacation in that environment for a long time. If the blowout proves to be the health risk that many anticipate, 'a long time' stretches to a generation. The gulf becomes a Forbidden Zone.

All I can say is, if you're there now, you probably need to make plans for your escape.

downrodeo's picture

the 'diaspora' is certainly in the pipeline of potentials...

cossack55's picture

"Is the media blackout campaign a collusive one between BP and our Goobermint?"

Here is a tip.  BP is the freakin goobermint!!!!!!!

breezer1's picture

bp, halliburton and a chicago sockpuppet. organized crime.

Careless Whisper's picture

that's right.

WAKE UP PEOPLE. the gov controlling the media at the beaches? why not. the fcc is about to regulate the internet. there's a common theme of censorship being attempted.

downrodeo's picture

This technique has always astounded me, especially with it's efficacy. They tell us an obvious lie hoping that we are caught so off guard that we will be too confused to not believe it. Then, at the very least, everyone who didn't see this video can take Suttles word for it, and then they have successfully created a bifurcation in the collective understanding of the issue. You can fool some of the people some of the time.

MarketWizard's picture

People should just boycott BP...stick it to them!!!

The Merchant of Venice's picture

Why should we accept shoddy journalism?

The reporter has every right to walk all over that beach and interview anyone he wants.  If the security guard so much as touches him he can deck him and choke him out and call the police.  It's a public beach.

This report better represents how juvenile some in the media play to pump a story.  Go get your interviews with the Talon security guard riding your back.  Even that would make for a more interesting story then asking a security guard if you can shout questions to contract workers.

Look how the story ends.  "Anyone want to talk to the press?"  "NOOOOOOO!"

In fact, why not just wear a nifty Talon security uniform and get a real scoop.

RichardP's picture

"It's a public beach."

Who determines that?  How is such a determination enforced?  Who enforces it?  Can these enforcers ever change the designation "public beach" temporarily?


Wynn's picture

In the days of twitter, youtube, and the like - it's difficult to believe how any blackout will work for long. Just look at all that highly classified material leaked to WikiLeaks by that soldier.

I'd be willing to bet that dozens of aspiring "youtube reporters" will be working their way to gulf coast in the days and weeks to come, looking for some big scoop.

downwiththebanks's picture

Government is doing what is has always done - protecting property.  The results are totally predictable.

While they aren't acting exclusively in the interest of BP, Obama's job is to run interference for the corporate plunderers who make their living appropriating the earth for themselves (destroying it in the process).  

Practically that means taking a laissez-faire attitude ("hooray" say Hayek's disciples) and saying "they" are in charge - whether it's the banking parasites who run the Fed or BP, whose leadership should be facing public execution rather than congressional inquiry.  

A truly democratic government would seize the assets of these criminals rather than letting them carry out propaganda campaigns.

Cursive's picture

A truly democratic government would seize the assets of these criminals rather than letting them carry out propaganda campaigns.

I consider myself a free market, limited government type and I have been calling for the seizure of BP's assets for well over two weeks now.  As it stands now, "our" government has put the rights of a foreign corporation, the actions of which seem criminally negligent, above the rights of American citizens.  As a side note, I hope that the Texas voters expel Joe Barton from Congress.

RichardP's picture

"I consider myself a ... limited government type ..."

Shouldn't you and all others stand by your principles?  Government is the problem, not the solution.  Leave BP to clean up the mess they created, or not, however they choose.  Who is government to tell them to do otherwise?

Once the government begins to protect us from the folly of others, who knows where that urge to protect us will end?  Won't that just lead to learned helplessness among the masses?  Why should we even start to go down that slippery slope?  If the people won't protect themselves, why should the government bother?


It might be useful to remember that Reagan didn't say that government is the problem, not the solution.  He actually said "in this particular situation, government is ..."  He was speaking to limited circumstances, yet some have misused his words and applied them generically to everything.  Unfortunately, when you convince voters that government is the problem everywhere and in everything, they end up voting people into office who have no clue how to stand up and be leaders when and where it is necessary.  I think we are seeing evidence of that in the banking and gulf crises.  What a shame.



Ruth's picture

the term BumF'kEgypt, and I don't even know where that came from, has now changed to BumF'kGulfBeaches!

glenlloyd's picture

congress pistol whipping of BP smells like a diversion...anyone air some dirty laundry recently?

Jake Lamotta's picture

NObama- Keep the change

earnyermoney's picture

Saul Alinksy. BP is being identified, personalized and demonized according to ORhamaRod's playbook to deflect attention from the Federal Government's incompetent bureaucratic response to the crisis.

Reductio ad Absurdum's picture

This is old news. From back on May 27:

Once there, journalists are finding that BP — aided by local and federal officials — is making it difficult to cover the environmental disaster.

Newsweek's Matthew Philips spoke with a number of journalists in the region. Photographers tell him that officials are "blocking access to the sites where the effects of the spill are most visible," such as "oil-covered beaches, staging areas for cleanup efforts, and even flyovers."

Of course, anyone flipping on the cable networks or perusing online news sites has probably seen images from the spill. But Philips says many images "are coming from BP and government sources."

...Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland said her efforts to reach Elmer's Island on the tip of Louisiana were thwarted after she was stopped more than once by Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies.

Fascist Dictator's picture

In May I heard that anyone taking a picture of the beaches was threatened with arrest. Anyone flying over the Gulf is threatened with arrest. This includes the locals. Heard that Grand Isle is completely overrun with military and they're planning to evacuate hundreds of millions of people. Guess we'll find out sooner rather than later.....

keating's picture

Darcy, the permeability of soil, now starts to make more and more trouble, as any cap of a leak simply finds a new path to the surface through sandy soils.


There were two problems, capping the well, and organizing the cleanup. The government has no role in the well, but has everything to do with the cleanup.


The coast guard needs to have a better sense of proportion, letting rules slide for some of the cleanup efforts.


The 20 billion is a slush fund, like the stimulus. If your district votes republican, no money for you...


aking of $20 billion is unlawful. MSM are as usual stupid sychophants. By the way, if you are retired and living off BP dividends, Obama just stole your income check.

RichardP's picture

"Obama just stole your income check."

So, if Obama had not "taken" that 20 million, BP would spend nothing on the cleanup?  BP made an error in judgement, which resulted in a catastrophe that will require major dollars from BP to deal with.   The error in judgement "stole" the retirees' dividends, not any government entity.  Unless you believe that BP will not spend any mony on mitigating the disaster.


Confused's picture

Or better yet. A journalist could just "volunteer" to help out. Like the good 'ole days.


Oh, and everyone that is working in the BP command center was told from day 1 not to talk to anyone with the media. They were also given numbers (to the relations dept) to refer people to.



jailnotbail's picture

This is our future.  Our corporate masters will tell us when we can speak and whom we can speak to, and what we may tell them.  They will decide when and if crimes have been committed, and what form justice will take, if any. 

We will passively obey, as will our government, which they own.

Thos who are obedient will be rewarded. Those expendables who dare to disobey will be punished.

divide_by_zero's picture

Is The BP Media Blackout Campaign Endorsed By The White House?


Welcome to Obama's state run media. He doesn't even need to give press conferences where reporters might ask pesky questions. If they weren't in the tank for him already that is. The revolving door between press and WH admin jobs is only rivaled by the SEC.

Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

There's a bad, bad, bad odor in the air here in DC.  And it ain't benzene wafting up from the Gulf - yet.  It is emanating from the White House and The Hill, and it has an overwhelming dictatorial scent, with a strong hint of truthiness-suppression.

Something may be dying here, or already dead and decaying...

Rule of Law?  Honesty in political discourse?  Courage to say what is real? Objective media?

milbank's picture

It's telling that while Zero Hedge i.e., the many Tylers, is always on Obama about everything regarding this disaster, and I'm not implying, since he is the Chief Executive, that they are not totally wrong, I didn't see one article from any of the Tylers regarding the "shakedown" statement by the Rep. Barton or the telling statements by other Republicans like Rep. Price from Georgia.  I'm not taking political party sides as I think the whole system is in the tank to the banks, oil companies and other major money contributors.  My point is that what I've come to suspect more and more and especially lately is that ZH seems to be in the tank with the Republicans which renders the site less useful than if they were more independent.  I'm not defending the Democrats or Obama.  I don't merely think Congress and the Executive branch is corrupt, I think the whole system is owned by the monied interests and there is not an alternative party for voters.

Barton said what he thinks. The "back track" and then the "apology" was under threat from Republican leadership of Barton losing his seat as ranking Republican on the  House Energy and Commerce Committee if he did not.  His speaking his "truth" made them look bad.  Now that he has "apologized," he will most likely be able to keep his ranking minority position as long as he keeps his true feelings and loyalties to himself.  The GOP regains a majority in the House and he becomes chairman of that committee.

We're on our own.  Everybody is owned by the corporations and anyone who gets to the point where you can vote for them is owned.  That's how they got to that point. 

You all give Obama too much credit.  He's just another brick in the wall.  If McCain had been elected, most of what you all bitch about regarding Obama would have been done essentially the same way with him.  The Politicians and the two parties don't own.  They are owned.

WaterWings's picture

What you say is not news to ZHers. Insignificant bowel movements happen every day in the realm of "politics". It's all part of the show. We know. Why focus on a retracted statement? Republicans? Please. The scope around here has always been wider than that. Everybody knows what would happen if ZH advocated direct action. So they don't. But there really isn't anything else to do these days except show up for work, collect checks, etc. and pray the axe doesn't fall on you! Vote? Please. That's consent to be governed by criminal children.

milbank's picture

They had no problem, for example, focusing on that "insignificant bowel movement," Mel Watt just yesterday.  Almost everyday they write about some "insignificant bowel movement . . . . in the realm of politics" as you so prosaically put it, which is why I made my post.  The point with Barton was not the specific but, the mindframe of those who are supposed to be "doing the people's work."  Which is why ZH writes about these "insignificant bowel movements.  Please.  The Tylers' scope in this area is or is not what they want it or don't want it to be. 

But there really isn't anything else to do these days except show up for work, collect checks, etc. and pray the axe doesn't fall on you!

I agree except that has always been the case.  It's just become more apparent as the "Powers That Be" have had to flex their muscles in order to protect their power after getting sloppy.

Ripped Chunk's picture

The answer is clearly YES!

But they could have hired Blackwater or at least someone not as puny as these little sand flies. They look like rejects from the police academy.


chumbawamba's picture

The collapse of the Soviet Union was augured/accelerated/guaranteed by the Chernobyl meltdown.  The Soviet leadership did more to contain the leakage of information about the accident than the radiation spewing from the reactor itself.  It was a sign or symbol of the ineptitude of Soviet leadership and its failed policies.

In terms of destructive forces, this oil gusher is far worse, but it is telling the same story.

This so-called "leak" (terminology that was aptly lambasted by CogDis yesterday) will be the end of the southeast of America.  Not only as we know it, but in totality.  We may well see an exodus from southern states into less polluted northern ones.  The oil is likely already making its way around Florida and up the east coast.  Cuba is bracing for impact.

This is being downplayed by the government and the government-controlled media.  That we are even speaking in such terms is indicative of a total breakdown of our republican form of government.  We are no longer a republic.  We are now effectively a union of socialist states in the Soviet style.

This is beyond disaster.  It's worse than a catastrophe.  I'm not ready to call it armegeddon, but reserve my right to escalate my rhetoric at a later date as the situation dictates.

I don't think people are giving this situation the dire seriousness it warrants.  Mostly because our overseers do not want us to know just how truly badly they fucked things up this time.  But also because this has never happened at such a magnitude before.  How does one even prepare for the aftermath?  Does anyone even know what the effects will be?  What does one do?

I don't think this will merely be confined to the Gulf of Mexico.  As time goes on and it becomes more and more clear that there is no real answer to the problem, oil will still be gushing into the Gulf, and it will start to circulate more widely, potentially through the Atlantic and then off to where ever the ocean currents take it.

I know there's a lot of misinformation out there, again because of a deliberate policy by the government, but that just feeds into my analysis.  The Idiots That Be know something we don't.  Even if it's not as bad as our overworked imaginations might lead us to believe, the cover-up is just as disastrous to our safety and liberty.

However we as a nation (and world) come out of this, things are not going to be like they were before.  Things generally will be worse.  This is guaranteed.  This is now.  This is reality.

As Hugh Hendry counseled but in a different context: I recommend you panic.

I am Chumbawamba.

downrodeo's picture




*has been suggested as a more realistic term than 'leak' 

The way they presume to shape reality around us is insulting, to say the least. We participate, of course, but I am of the opinion that we will only collectively understand this catastrophe in hindsight. If you're not mourning this event, even a little bit, you've cut yourself off entirely from the planet you call your home  (looking at you Joe Barton).

Real Estate Geek's picture

Does anyone even know what the effects will be? 

I think Cormac McCarthy had a pretty good idea of what they'll be.

Horatio Beanblower's picture

"Kenneth Abbott Whistleblows BP Safety Negligence" -


"I am personally sick at heart over the Horizon tragedy. Like millions of others, my family and I have vacationed and fished in the Gulf, and used it for recreational purposes. My work and career are tied to the oil and gas industry, much of which is in the Gulf. I feel that the pollution of the Gulf, the destruction of the beaches, the destruction of its recreational and economic value is a national tragedy. I feel strongly that it would not have happened with proper procedures."