Media

Mainstream Media Helps BP Pretend There's No Oil

| Wed Jul. 28, 2010 1:07 PM EDT

"WASHINGTON (AFP) – With BP's broken well in the Gulf of Mexico finally capped, the focus shifts to the surface clean-up and the question on everyone's lips is: where is all the oil?"

NEW ORLEANS (Mother Jones) – I don't know who the fuck these everyones are, but I'm happy to help out them, and ABC, and this AFP reporter writing that due to BP's stunningly successful skimming and burning efforts, "the real difficulty now is finding any oil to clean up."

I sent one text message to Bloomberg's Lizzie O'Leary, who's standing on Grand Isle, Louisiana, right now, asking how the beach looks. "Lower part past the barrier untouched with globs of oil that washed up last night," she said. By "untouched," she means by cleanup crews, and that "barrier" she's talking about is the one the press isn't allowed past. I sent another text to Drew Wheelan, who's also in Southwestern Louisiana, doing bird surveys for the American Birding Association, asking him how big the biggest tar mat on Grand Terre—the scene of those now famous horrifying oiled-bird photos—is. "20 feet by 15," he said. "But bigger ones submerged slightly."

If I managed to find that much oil with my BlackBerry without getting dressed or leaving the house, let's hope Thad Allen, who is quoted in the article as saying, "What we're trying to figure out is where is all the oil at and what can we do about it," can locate some more with the staff and craft of the United States Coast Guard at his disposal. As for the reporter's alarmingly unsubstantiated claim that "The beaches should be relatively painless to mop up," I can't even count the number of correspondents down here who've pointed out that digging a finger under the surface of supposedly clean sand turns up crude, or the number of cleanup workers who've said cleanup efforts are strictly cosmetic, or that no matter what they do the contamination just keeps bubbling up.

It's BP's job to whitewash this story and make it easier to indulge the desire to forget about the scope of the devastation, guys. Not the media's.