A few weeks ago some television crews said they were whisked away from coastal oil spill cleanup scenes, told that BP wasn’t allow the media access. The Coast Guard clarified (and Admiral Thad Allen has since said repeatedly) that the only grounds for keeping media away would be safety or interference with operations.
More recently, some media outlets have reported that contract workers involved in spill cleanup say they have been told not to talk to news outlets.
BP sent a letter out Wednesday to its Incident Commanders in the field that was also forwarded to the media (see it after the jump) saying it is not prohibiting workers from speaking.
“Recent media reports have suggested that individuals involved in the cleanup operation have been prohibited from speaking to the media, and this is simply untrue,” BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said in the letter. The company “fully supports and defends all individuals rights to share their personal thoughts and experiences with journalists if they so choose.”
But, he continues, they can only speak on their own behalf and “are not authorized to speak on behalf of BP or of the Unified Command.” And, of course, that they “are under no obligation to speak to media,” either.
CNN notes this wasn’t necessarily the policy early on. One clause of contracts with the owners of ships involved in the Gulf clean-up and response included a prohibition on speaking with the media. Following the filing of a lawsuit, the restriction was lifted.