Monday, July 12, 2010

Reporting on Gulf oil spill is now a felony - update

A felony to report on Obama's mess? Yes. - Update at the bottom "Well, you see we are concerned about reporters interfering with blah-blah-blah," I am sure they say. The Coast Guard is covering up - keeping reporters from showing the impact on people, animals, beaches and water ways. Why hide the problem? Newsbusters
Effectively reporting on the Gulf oil spill is now a Class D felony, punishable by a fine of up to $40,000. That's right, the most transparent administration in history has made it a felony, effective July 1, to get within 65 feet of what the Coast Guard determines are essential recovery efforts. According to Anderson Cooper, officials tried to up that number to 300 feet. Cooper, who claimed federal officials prevented CNN on two occasions from taking photographs in the gulf, seemed frustrated when he reported on the new laws the day they went into effect. The press is "not the enemy here" he pleaded. The new policies, he said, make it "very easy to hide failure, and hide incompetence." Cooper also let loose this zinger: "Transparency is apparently not a priority with [Coast Guard Commandant] Thad Allen these days." This is but the latest in a string of incidents that seem to have much of the country -- and if Cooper is any indicator, at least a few journalists -- questioning the sincerity of candidate Obama's pledges of transparency, openness, and respect for the press. But these new regulations on press coverage of the spill have not garnered as much attention as perhaps they should -- certainly not as much as similar moves during the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina (a fact that Cooper notes). Shortly after the Hurricane hit, according to the Washington Post, "FEMA refused to take reporters and photographers along on boats seeking victims in flooded areas, saying they would take up valuable space needed in the recovery effort and asked them not to take pictures of the dead." The Post touted claims that the FEMA policy was "in line with the Bush administration's ban on images of flag-draped U.S. military coffins returning from the Iraq war" -- clearly drawing a comparison to other Bush policies rife with accusations of politically-motivated censorship. So far, the Post is silent on the criminalization -- a much stronger statement of administration policy than the refusal to allow embedded reporters on rescue efforts -- of media coverage in the Gulf. With a scant few exceptions, the legacy media are silent on the issue. ...
Follow the link to see video of Cooper's frusteration with the obfuscation of "the most transparent administration ever." Update 7/14/10: Today in the House of Representatives Democrats blocked a measure that would ensure media access to the oil spill. What are they trying to hide? Washington Examiner

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