Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

CNN’s Anderson Cooper wanted to know why the government wouldn’t let the media fully report on the infamous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Just before Independence Day, the Coast Guard widened the gulf between official policy and common sense — a gulf that has characterized much of the federal response to the catastrophe. A newly concocted rule prohibited camera crews and others from coming within 65 feet of response vessels or booms without obtaining special permission.

The government’s point man on all things BP-oil-spill, Admiral Thad Allen, at first defended the rule. This was the same man who, Cooper noted, had weeks earlier stressed that “the media will have uninhibited access anywhere we’re doing operations, except for two things, if it’s a security or a safety problem.”

The blanket 65-feet boundary arbitrarily inhibited access. And it raised Anderson Cooper’s ire:

“We’re not the enemy here,” Cooper clarified. “Those of us down here trying to accurately show what’s happening, we are not the enemy. I have not heard about any journalist who has disrupted relief efforts. . . . If a Coast Guard official asked me to move, I would move.”

Anderson Cooper’s criticism of the rule, and its widespread coverage, elicited a backlash. In less than two weeks the rule was lifted for reporters.

Openness? Transparency? Governments don’t like it. Citizens do.

The lesson appears to be that we are likely to get transparency only after loudly demanding it.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor

4 Comments

  1. David Lane says:

    I don’t think that this blanket rule was for anything but safety. Imagine a press boat coming along side a working clean up boat and trying to get an interview across the gap. Big chance of an accident. Same with just keeping a safety barrier around booms and clean up devices.

    Don’t think they were hiding anything. What can a modern news crew camera not see from 65 feet away that it can see from 5 feet away?

    Just a thought.

  2. Juan C. de Cardenas says:

    Paul,
    You comments are usually very insightful and touch important issues. This one si quiet silly. It is something I expect from Anderson Cooper but not from you.
    As David Lane said, nothing can be hide 65 feet away from a news crew with modern, professional cameras and other devices.If you have been on a boat, and I am not talking about a massive cruise ship, 65 feet is as close as you can safely get on a busy work area in open seas if you are not direcly involved in the operations.

  3. John Tracy says:

    I concur with David and Juan.
    As for safety the US Coast Guard is master at sea, the last word / the law…

  4. David says:

    If the commenters are correct, then a) why did it take so long for this “sensible” rule to be enacted; and b) why did Allen et al. execute a 180 degree reversal of their new policy, which was a blanket ban?

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