We’ve been watching the relentless coverage of the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico with a mixture of anger and fear. Media coverage, depending on what other shiny objects have caught the editors’ eye, has been a mixture of annoyance, ferocious ignorance and the usual gotcha clips passing as reporting.
Not being one to side with BP, at least the CEO is trying to be as clear as he can be with the media. Sure, he’s well rehearsed and you can hear the lawyers in his head yelling “shut up!” but that is expected.
Any media outlet that expects anything more than a well-crafted statement has obviously not done their homework. CEO’s do not become CEO’s because they fire from the lip, so don’t expect Tony Hayward to spontaneously break down in a hail of tears and confess to a multitude of corporate sins just because he’s on TV. Even an unguided missile like Ross Perot knew enough to clam up at the right time. Give him 90 seconds a day to read his statement, then move on. There’s no story.
Wall to Wall on the seabed camera: Watching a talking head trying to explain what we’re seeing on that undersea camera is about as useful as a professional skateboarder explaining how to make cornbread: There’s no context, no content and no explanation of what we are really seeing, because the anchor is, at best, a meat puppet. One approximate quote will do: “We’ve noticed the stuff spewing out of the holes is now brown and murky. Is that the drilling mud Professor?” Wisely, the professor in question answered “It probably is, but I don’t know where they are in the process, Rick…”
No kidding, you don’t know. Nobody does, as BP isn’t being particularly forthcoming with the play-by-play, so the chair warmers make it up as they go, faces flushed with this hour’s mock outrage furrowing their brows. If the media gave a rodent’s secondary sexual characteristic about informing their viewers, they would get an actual underwater blowout preventer in the studio and give us some context of what we’re seeing.
A lazy propsman could rig one up out of PVC pipe in an afternoon after a trip to Home Depot. I know two guys from television days who could probably engineer a working blowout preventer valve with a stick welder, some Sched 40 pipe and a couple of blocks of styrofoam that would tell us more about what we’re seeing on screen in 30 seconds than any two weeks of makeup clad mouthpieces babbling endlessly could ever hope to explain. Why? Because the meat puppets have no clue what they see, how it works at even the vaguest level, or even have an appreciation of the astounding level of difficulty involved in any of the operations. This is our source for news.
However, when the media tries, they can get some work done. President Obama shows up on a beach in Louisiana for a walkabout and magically 400 cleanup workers appear mopping up the crude goo. There weren’t any the day, or weeks, before, but somehow BP managed to reallocate some of their 20,000 workers grimly involved in cleaning up the Gulf, to make sure a stretch of beach is looking good.
The telling shot was CNN’s Anderson Cooper getting the real hook: The workers were hired the day before and told to not speak to media, or have their asses fired. The whole workforce was bussed in from a staging area to do a dog and pony show at $12 an hour.
To simplify for the hard of thinking: It’s Bullshiite Theatre by BP and the US Government is buying seats by the busload.
Now is the time for someone (that would be Prez O) to grab some folks by the neck and offer them a couple of years in a Federal facility or get the damn thing fixed by Monday.
Forty days is about thirty days too long. Fix it.