BP Accused Of Blocking Media Access To Oil Spill Cleanup Efforts

On several occasions since oil started coming close to the Gulf Coast, members of the media have complained that they were being prevented from fully covering the story by BP workers or private security guards. When ABC’s Jake Tapper mentioned this to Admiral Thad Allen, the White House’s “man in charge” of the oil spill crisis, Allen said he would immediately order “uninhibited access” to all aspect of the cleanup efforts, a promise which BP said it would abide by. Only a few days later, though, ABC reporter Matt Gutman reported being “hassled” by a BP-hired security guard while doing a report from Grand Isle Beach. Now, a local New Orleans television station is reporting the same sort of harrassment and it’s become clear that Allen’s promise of “uninhibited access” isn’t exactly being honored by BP and it’s contractors:

Private security guards patrolling an oil-stained portion of Grand Isle attempted repeatedly to prevent a WDSU news crew from walking on a public beach and speaking with cleanup workers — a confrontation that followed a BP corporate promise not to interfere in such a manner.

It was the second day in a row WDSU News anchor Scott Walker was approached by hired security in the area.

On Friday, he told the guards he intended to ask contracted clean-up crews about their efforts while workers were on their breaks. The guards told Walker he could not question the workers and was not allowed on the public beach.

Jefferson Parish sheriff’s depuies eventually intervened and Walker asked a group of workers if they wanted to talk. The guards followed Walker to a tent where the workers had gathered and told them they didn’t have to speak if they didn’t want to.

The workers declined to discuss their efforts.

Nobody is required to to talk to the press, of course, but the the extent to which a cone of silence seems to have been thrown over almost all aspects of BP’s contributions to the cleanup effort seems to be more than just coincidental and, along with reports of workers being bused in for a photo op while President Obama was in town, it makes one wonder just how serious BP is about the cleanup effort.

The press shouldn’t be getting in the way of the cleanup effort, obviously, but BP’s statement on the matter seems to be a subtle instruction to it’s workers and contractors not to cooperate:

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. BP fully supports and defends all individuals rights to share their personal thoughts and experiences with journalists if they so choose.


It is extremely important that every individual is aware of BP’s position to prevent further misunderstanding and miscommunication. They should also be aware that they are under no obligation to speak to media and may refer journalists to the BP press office.

Wink, wink.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. steve says:

    There are many billions of dollars at stake. According to Barnett, BP did not even re-insure for this kind of event, so this may be an existential battle for BP. he history of these kinds of events is stonewalling followed by lengthy, extended litigation. IOW, justice delayed.

    From day one they tried to hide how much oil was actually leaking. I have a hard time understanding those on the right who have been defending BP. I guess it is important to build a narrative that everything is the fault of government, but in this case the behavior has been very blatant.


  2. Steve Plunk says:

    The press can be jackals so BP has a right to limit access where legal. No matter what they do it’s likely the press will make them look bad.

  3. steve says:

    “the press will make them look bad.”

    You would think causing billions of dollars of damage would be enough to make a company look bad. Apparently not. It is the press making them look bad.


  4. floyd says:

    Now I don’t care who you are … that there’s funny!