BP and the U.S. Coast Guard announced last week the new rules concerning "safety zones": come within 65 feet, and you could face felony charges and massive fines. Not only have reporters been routinely shut out of supposed "open access" areas, under this new provision they'll also be labeled criminals. How can reporters, photographers and others in those "safety zones" do their jobs that is, sending information to the rest of the world about a disaster now enforcing as little oversight as possible. This is nothing less than a police state, folks, and Gambit don't take kindly to police states. Is this not our home? If you live in Louisiana, do you not expect to know what the hell is happening to it? Anderson Cooper tells BP "We are not the enemy":
One of several organizations trying to get some rational response to the "law," the National Press Photographers Association has appealed to President Barack Obama to rescind the ban on interviewing oil cleanup workers, and to "instruct the federal government to work with the press to create a more reasonable 'safety zone' for journalists who are covering the Gulf oil spill and attempting to document the Deepwater Horizon booming efforts."
Champion of First Amendment-toting lampooning, Leroy Stick, the guy behind the BPGlobalPR Twitter, revealed himself to PBS while wearing a balaclava and using a voice modulator. Close enough, I guess. "The brand is dead," he says. As a doorknob.
Stuart Smith, an attorney handling oil-spill lawsuits, said seeking aid can be intimidating, and some cash workers fear that they'll face penalties or prosecution for not paying taxes if they come forward.
"Proving that you worked in that capacity is going to be an issue for a lot of these people because they're not sophisticated businessmen," Smith said.