BP’s Attempted Plugging Will Not Be Televised

UPDATE: On Tuesday night, BP, according to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), agreed to keep the video flowing, when it tries to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil leak. Markey noted, “BP made the right decision to allow the public to see this potentially historical event for themselves. The hopes of millions of Americans rest on this effort, and the world deserves a first-hand view of the top kill attempt. BP should now take the next step and make the full 12 possible video feeds available to the public, not just one single feed.”

It took several weeks for BP to make public the live feed of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. But now the oil company, according to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), plans to shut down the video during its next attempt to seal the well, which is scheduled to happen on Wednesday. Is this due to performance anxiety on the part of BP? What could be more gripping reality TV? Markey, understandably, is not happy. Here’s a press release from his office:

Markey: BP to Kill Top Kill Video Feed; BP Says to American People The Solution Will Not Be Televised

After Releasing Public Video Feed, BP Blackout for Well Termination Attempt

WASHINGTON (May 25, 2010) – After pushing BP into providing a live feed of the spill at the bottom of the ocean, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today learned that BP will terminate the live feed during BP’s pivotal attempt to seal the well this week. BP informed Rep. Markey’s office that the live feed would be terminated some time early Wednesday morning, and would continue to be offline until after the attempt at the so-called “top kill” is completed.

“It is outrageous that BP would kill the video feed for the top kill. This BP blackout will obscure a vital moment in this disaster,” said Rep. Markey, who chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the Energy and Commerce Committee. “After more than a month of spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP is essentially saying to the American people the solution will not be televised.”

Last week, after Rep. Markey’s request, BP agreed to provide live footage of the subsea spill operations. Rep. Markey first provided a live link to the accident site a few minutes before 1:30 PM EST on Thursday, May 20. Demand for the video from the public and the news media was overwhelming. Hundreds of thousands of people visited the Select Committee (www.globalwarming.house.gov) Web site in the first 24 hours. The Energy and Commerce Committee was also able to provide access to the feeds due to Rep. Markey’s request at http://energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2011:live-feed-of-the-gulf-oil-spill&catid=122:media-advisories&Itemid=55.

According to a BP technical video released yesterday (see http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9033572&contentId=7061710), many of the preparations for the top kill attempt have already been completed. Therefore, Rep. Markey questioned today why the actual attempt to plug the leaking well could not be shown to the American public.

“No one wants to interfere with the operations during the top kill. With those preparations mostly done, now the world should see whether or not this strategy works, and we should see it in real time,” said Rep. Markey.

Rep. Markey yesterday had also asked BP to provide all 12 available feeds from the accident site, and yesterday released a YouTube video showing the differences between the one feed the public has been allowed to see and the 12 possible feeds available to BP. To view this video, click HERE.



as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.


as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.