New Rule Blocks Press From Covering Spill

A new rule went into effect last Thursday that bars journalists, reporters and photographers from getting within 65 feet of the oil-soaked beaches, wildlife and booms in the Louisiana Gulf. What does this mean for news coverage going forward? Oh, just that it’ll be really, really sanitized. We’ll no longer see those heartbreaking/maddening photos of sad birds drenched in oil or booms sitting uselessly in marshlands.

Violators could face a fine of $40,000, a felony charge and one to five years in jail. The Coast Guard’s point man Thad Allen says it’s not unusual at all to establish these kinds of safety zones. Hmm…but it does seem unusual to establish this zone on day 73 of the worst oil spill disaster in US history — after nearly three months of futile efforts that are only working toward making BP and government officials in charge of this clean-up look evermore incompetent. It’s so blatantly self-serving, it’s hard to believe they think we’re that dumb. But they’ll get away with it, so I guess we are that dumb.

Anderson Cooper is pissed — as we all should be! He makes a good case for transparency above, saying a rule like this “makes it very easy to hide failure and hide incompetence.” We have a right to see how this spill is unfolding. This is the system of checks and balances — and we need it; it works quite well in disasters like these. Write your representative. Demand they abolish this rule. Don’t take this one lying down.

Read more about this story on Slate, The Raw Story and The Huffington Post.

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