BP’s Press Harassment Continues

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


As Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland found some months ago, members of the press trying to cover the BP oil spill have been repeatedly stopped by the company’s goons. Some of those goons are local law enforcement who are working for BP trying to “strongly encourage” reporters to adhere to laws that don’t actually exist. Like the supposed law that you can’t dig in the sand on public beaches, not even if you want to build a sandcastle. This week, Florida ABC3 newsman Dan Thomas went to a local beach with a 2′ long, blue plastic shovel to check on oil below the beach’s surface.

BP workers aren’t allowed to dig deeper than 6″ to look for oil, even though oil is easily visible before the 6″ mark, but Thomas wasn’t allowed to dig at all. “You need a permit to do that,” a Fish & Wildlife office told the reporter, encouraging him to move down the shore. Thomas did move, but was then accosted by a National Parks officer who told him it was “illegal” to film in a National Park and demanded to see his press pass. “You can’t dig in a National Park,” the officer told him. “So, no sandcastles, none of that?” a dubious Thomas asked. “You’re right,” the officer said. The park’s superintendent later said he didn’t know why Thomas was stopped and confirmed that it was, indeed, okay to dig for sandcastles on the beach.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest