Last updated: June 17, 2010 - 8:03am
Journalists covering the Gulf of Mexico oil spill have been yelled at, kicked off public beaches and islands and threatened with arrest in the nearly three weeks since the government promised improved media access.
Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's point person for the response, issued a May 31 directive to BP PLC and federal officials ensuring media access to key sites along the coast. BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles followed up with a letter to news organizations, saying the company "fully supports and defends all individuals' rights to share their personal thoughts and experiences with journalists if they so choose." Those efforts have done little to curtail the obstacles, harassment and intimidation tactics journalists are facing by federal officials and local police, as well as BP employees and contractors, while covering the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history.
"We think a lot of the restrictions are way tighter than they need to be," said Michael Oreskes, an AP senior managing editor. "So far, I think the government has done a better job of controlling the flow of information than of controlling the flow of oil in the Gulf."
Oreskes wrote to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Wednesday demanding that President Barack Obama's administration improve media access.
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