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BP's Hired Guns Block Journalists From Talking to Disaster Workers

BP manages to create more bad PR in a surprising new way.

For some reason, BP continues to invest its resources in keeping journalists away from oil spill disaster sites. The tactic is clearly failing—we all have access to horrific pictures of dead animals and oily beaches—but BP still insists on bullying reporters. Of course, BP doesn't want to take the blame, which is why it has apparently hired mercenaries to shoo journalists away.

Scott Walker, a reporter with New Orleans news station WDSU, was recently blocked from interviewing BP employees working on a beach by mercenaries from a company called Talon Security. This happened just two days after Doug Suttles, BP's COO, released this statement: "Recent media reports have suggested that individuals involved in the cleanup operation have been prohibited from speaking to the media, and this is simply untrue." One look at the video below (hat tip, Business Insider) proves that this most certainly is true.

When we spoke to Lieutenant Commander Chris O'Neill, the Chief of Media Relations for the U.S. Coast Guard, regarding a recent incident where CBS reporters investigating an oily beach were threatened with arrest, we were told that, "The incident isn't reflective of policy for media access to the spill site or spill mitigation efforts." A note to BP: When you blatantly defy Coast Guard policies—and your own COO's assurances—everyone will find out. (Thanks, YouTube!)

Read more about the Gulf Oil Spill

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Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email

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  • Chris Reich

    Okay, frankly, this story is getting tiresome. These workers do leave the work sites at some point, do they not? Can they be interviewed at a time when they are not being paid to work? Yes, the video showed workers on break but they were within the confines of their work area.

    We all know the press distorts and sensationalizes stories. Think about this. If someone crashed into your place of work with cameraman in tow asked you to bad-mouth your employer, would you? Doesn't that put the worker in a terrible position? Does this guy care about the workers? If so, can't a reporter find a single worker "off duty"?

    Now consider this. How many reporters and publicity hounds are there? Hundreds? More than a thousand? If they all, including Bloggers, felt entitlement to unrestricted access to every person and activity related to this horrific mess, would that not cause chaos?

    The press should show a little courtesy and some class. Take some workers out for dinner and interview them. BP can't restrict what workers do on their own time. And should someone be fired for speaking off site and off duty? There's a real story.

    It's very difficult for we of common sense to filter through the setups being fed us by the press. The same press that loves to report on extremism fuels that extremism by distorting presentation.

    Too bad. We want to know what's really happening.

    Chris Reich