Famously right-wing news org: Obama administration blocking media access to Gulf response

posted at 10:12 am on July 1, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Well, who’s going to believe Fox News when they complain about access to the federal response in the Gulf?  After all, they’re nothing more than a part of the right-wing noise machine, right?  Why, I’ll bet that Sean Hannity has — er, what?  It’s not Fox News?  Must be the New York Post, then.  Rupert Murdoch wants to destroy the Obama presidency — oh, wait, it’s not the Post either.  Nor is it the Wall Street Journal or Andrew Breitbart complaining that the feds are restricting media access to their response in this crisis.  In fact, it’s …. PBS?

But there’s one roadblock that we encountered that mystified us — and, we understand, many other journalists. It has been virtually impossible to get any information about the federal mobile medical unit in the fishing town of Venice, La. The glorified double-wide trailer sits on a spit of newly graveled land known to some as the “BP compound.” Ringed with barbed wire-topped chain link fencing, it’s tightly restricted by police and private security guards.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set up the facility on May 31. According to a press release, the medical unit is staffed by “a medical team from the HHS National Disaster Medical System — a doctor, two nurses, two emergency medical technician paramedics (EMT-P) and a pharmacist.”

For over two weeks, my NewsHour colleagues and I reached out to media contacts at HHS, the U.S. Coast Guard and everyone listed as a possible media contact for BP, in an attempt to visit the unit and get a general sense of how many people were being treated there , who they were and what illnesses they had. We got nowhere. It was either “access denied,” or no response at all. It was something that none of us had ever encountered while covering a disaster. We’re usually at some point provided access to the health services being offered by the federal government.

We tried the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals who told us to talk to HHS. HHS said they couldn’t provide us access and said they would get back to us about our questions.

We reached out to local parish officials, who told us to talk to Unified Command Center Operations. Unified Command Center Operations told us to talk to HHS… noticing a pattern here?

We certainly have noticed a pattern.  Ever since Barack Obama took office, the White House has claimed to provide “the most transparent administration ever.”  Instead, we’re seeing new frontiers in opacity.  Lobbyists refuse to disclose $40,000 payoffs when they take jobs in the administration, the President refuses to hold press conferences, key officials hold meetings at Caribou Coffee with lobbyists to avoid disclosure, and use private e-mail to evade the Official Records Act.

For all of the faults of the Katrina response, the media had full access to it from the beginning.  Unless the White House needs to declare a quarantine and an epidemic of some disease in the Gulf, the media should have access to this emergency response as well.  But at least the White House isn’t alone in hiding its failure, and the media aren’t the only people being kept out, as J.E. Dyer notes in the Green Room today:

This is hilarious.  Suddenly, the House Democrats are rewriting the rules for funded travel because a group of Republicans (and one Democrat) wants to visit the Gulf in July.  Well, “rewriting” makes it sound like something official and accountable is going on.  “Remaking it up as they go along” would apparently be more accurate.

The New Orleans news site Nola reports that the Democratic leadership in Congress won’t allow members to use their official accounts to pay for travel to the Gulf and to assess the administration’s response for themselves:

House members who had planned to travel to Louisiana next week for a tour and meetings on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill being organized by Rep. Steve Scalise won’t be able to tap their member accounts to cover the costs, the Republican congressman said he was told Tuesday.

The travel would appear to be to in the category of “general oversight” into an issue in which several committees have already been authorized for member visits to the Gulf Coast, said Kyle Anderson, spokesman for House Administration Committee Chairman Robert Brady, D-Pa. Such trips, Brady said, are “not eligible for payment from the financial accounts” that finance members’ offices. …

California Rep. Dan Lungren, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, said barring “some extraordinary reason to prohibit this trip,” which he said hasn’t been communicated to anybody on the Republican side, “this is an unacceptable departure from past practices.”

“This is an educational trip for members using their own representational budgets to see, firsthand, the devastating impact of the Gulf spill,” Lungren said. “Our travel regulations permit this type of travel in support of our official representational duties, and unfortunately, this disaster is already having environmental and economical implications for the entire country, not just those districts represented by members sitting on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”

The Scalise trip, scheduled for July 9, was to include a breakfast overview of the spill in New Orleans, a flight over the Louisiana coast, a meeting with local officials on Grand Isle and a boat tour of outer islands to see how the spill has affected wildlife.

Clearly, Democrats don’t want the media or our elected officials to see what’s happening in the Gulf, and it’s about time people started demanding an answer from them for it.  When PBS can’t get into the response effort, something is being covered up.

Update: I’m going to use Glenn Reynolds’ line here: “They told me if I voted for John McCain that the press would get silenced and the executive branch would block accountability.  And they were right!”


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Those watching Obama now,has he blamed Bush yet?

sandee on July 1, 2010 at 11:34 AM

“They told me if I voted for John McCain that the press would get silenced and the executive branch would block accountability. And they were right!”

LOL

itsnotaboutme on July 1, 2010 at 11:36 AM

There are just such ships, but our all powerful, all knowing federal government will not allow them to be used ………. because they don’t meet standards and they are foreign. I live in South Carolina and I am mad as heck. If I was a resident of a Gulf state I would be fuming! Someone should rent about fifty buses and take Gulf residents up to Washington and let them picket the White House.

SC.Charlie on July 1, 2010 at 10:57 AM

What about members of Congress flying to Houston and taking some ships out of Galveston or Beaumont to see what’s going on from the water?

Steve Z on July 1, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Those watching Obama now,has he blamed Bush yet?

sandee on July 1, 2010 at 11:34 AM

“Immigration problem has been ignored for decades”

That’s code for Bush’s fault.

fogw on July 1, 2010 at 11:38 AM

oldleprechaun on July 1, 2010 at 11:21 AM

I found this…so I’m assuming it’s true?

ssue Date : June 09, 2010 at 2155 UTC
Location : . GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL AND AFFECTED COASTLINE. THIS NO, United States
Beginning Date and Time : Effective Immediately
Ending Date and Time : Until further notice
Reason for NOTAM : DUE TO CHANGE IN PHONE NUMBER IN PARAGRAPH 10
Type : Hazards
Replaced NOTAM(s) : N/A
Pilots May Contact : Houma air operations center (ZHU) Center, 985-493-7607

http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_0_5100.html

capejasmine on July 1, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Obama is killing countless fish, birds and mammals. He is destroying the economy, lives and livelyhood of millions of American citizens …. to push policy.

Just wrap your head around that.

Ya, ya, his buddy Soros, and buddies in China and Brazil will make billions with his help, too.

Oh ya, and he’s getting away with it.

reaganaut on July 1, 2010 at 11:39 AM

teke184 on July 1, 2010 at 11:28 AM

Oops! My bad, typo’d that one. Here’s the correction…

archimedes6@att.net

Sorry!

Archimedes on July 1, 2010 at 11:40 AM

November Storm of Electoral Change Unexpectedly Expected

There’s a storm coming…..and it’s not just in the gulf. Right now, when all of our national resources should be concentrating on this disaster, OUR PRESIDENT is on TV diverting (spinning, for those of you in Rio Linda), this catastrophe by making a pathetic speech on immigration reform. This administration is a joke, and the joke at the podium is on all of us. (congrats again to the 52%—we’re all laughing at this joke you elected)

Rovin on July 1, 2010 at 11:43 AM

fogw on July 1, 2010 at 11:30 AM

It’s not the Constitution, it’s a menu.

Cindy Munford on July 1, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Obama is not talking to America in his speech, he is talking to 15-20 million potential voters. It is clearly focused on letting the illegals know that “he feels their pain”.

Puke.

fogw on July 1, 2010 at 11:47 AM

fogw on July 1, 2010 at 11:47 AM

I’m certain there’s 4-5 million legal American citizens out of work that could give a rats @ss about “their pain”

Rovin on July 1, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Rovin on July 1, 2010 at 11:52 AM

I’d like to see Obama show as much compassion for all of the families suffering as a result of the oil spill, as he does for the criminals bringing drugs and guns across the border.

fogw on July 1, 2010 at 11:59 AM

OT, but an Obamaville Tent City opens in… Hawaii.

Hopenchange~

Key West Reader on July 1, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Not surprising-my guess is that it’s a result of Hawaii’s recent move to evict homeless people from “camping out” (i.e., living) in the many State Parks (most of which are beaches). It’s an epidemic out there, thanks in no small part to the ICE (crystal meth) epidemic.

Del Dolemonte on July 1, 2010 at 12:05 PM

And what is Mr. President doing about the oil spill today? Nada. Nothing. Zero. He’s out giving a speech about passing immigration reform and blasting the GOP for “political posturing and special interest wrangling.”

scalleywag on July 1, 2010 at 12:18 PM

Well it’s nice to see PBS curious about a couple of trailers with some razor wire, where they aren’t allowed to film. It’d be nicer if folks like Brian Williams of NBC (or any other MSM outlet, for that matter) would show a little more curiosity about the toxic crap getting spewed into the Gulf along with the oil. Stuff that the EPA admits they really don’t have a clue about, but approved lickety split, without even pausing to make sure some life jacket paperwork was in order.

Maybe they’re going to follow the lead of the beauracrats and claim that no one ever pointed it out to them. Well, at least Williams can’t use that dodge.

Wind Rider on July 1, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Del Dolemonte on July 1, 2010 at 12:05 PM

Not to mention “generous public assistance programs”

Wind Rider on July 1, 2010 at 12:27 PM

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/later-today-damning-report-on-oil-spill-response-97579464.html

dhunter on July 1, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Is there any way to get this to Breitbart to put on his site? Also, would Glenn Beck take on investigating anything like this?

silvernana on July 1, 2010 at 12:34 PM

I cannot afford at this time to do a warm & fuzzy, feel-good effort .snip. we have to put something serious and worth while together.

.snip. Andrew has already shown he is willing to run with anything damaging to the administration and their blatant collusion with their enablers in the MFM.

One step at time, I’ll check the inbox of the above listed acct throughout the day to see if we can make this work.

Archimedes on July 1, 2010 at 11:31

As I said, breakout coverage is a necessity. Since the ‘professionals’ in the ‘media’ won’t do it, we’ll put it on youtube and hotair and breitbart, etc. Without widespread dissemination on popular media, it’s just masturbation.

Who is John Galt on July 1, 2010 at 1:06 PM

How is it that this president has this power? When the Republicans were in power they couldn’t stop Dems from going to Syria and other countries but they can stop Americans from American soil?

SGinNC on July 1, 2010 at 1:12 PM

How is it that this president has this power? When the Republicans were in power they couldn’t stop Dems from going to Syria and other countries but they can stop Americans from American soil?

SGinNC on July 1, 2010 at 1:12 PM

This isn’t the Administration, it’s the Dems running a committee in Congress saying they can’t use money from their office budgets. I say, open your personal wallet or do like the Dems do, catch a ride on a lobbiest’s private jet!

Gas up your personal vehicle and GO! Take your cameras…

Who is John Galt on July 1, 2010 at 1:26 PM

Transparent, Post-Partisan, Post-Racial, Honest. NOT.

mbabbitt on July 1, 2010 at 2:25 PM

James Carville was leaving messages on Obama’s voice mail, telling him he’d better get down to the Gulf Coast, and Obama — not quite used to the accent — thought he was saying he needs to get down to the Golf Course.

J_Crater on July 1, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Funny,

Nancy sure picked a fine time to get all frugal,

isn’t it.

franksalterego on July 1, 2010 at 3:40 PM

If I were one of those lawmakers, and could come up with the
funds, I would buy my own ticket to go down to the coast and check out this disaster myself. Prior to going, I would call all the media and ask them to meet me there with their cameras and a helicopter, and I would take the total tour, then have them document all of it, and run it on their newscast. I would demand that they mention that I paid for the trip myself, because the Dems and Obama were hiding something and would not let me pay for it out of my official account.

Susanboo on July 1, 2010 at 4:27 PM

But there’s one roadblock that we encountered that mystified us — and, we understand, many other journalists..

noticing a pattern here?

Why yes. From DAY ONE, the Obama Admin has blocked information. They have done so in tandem with the liberal media.

TN Mom on July 1, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Why yes. From DAY ONE, the Obama Admin has blocked information. They have done so in tandem with the liberal media.

TN Mom on July 1, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Day One was 1/20/2009.

Who is John Galt on July 1, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Why yes. From DAY ONE, the Obama Admin has blocked information. They have done so in tandem with the liberal media.

TN Mom on July 1, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Day One was 1/20/2009.

Who is John Galt on July 1, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Correction. What date did Zero announce his candidacy? THAT was the date all of Zero’s information was blocked.

Who is John Galt on July 1, 2010 at 9:29 PM

I wonder, when House Dems “rewrite” the travel rules, will they address Madame Speaker’s WEEKLY private jet rides back to wine country? What about the enormous booze and food expenses ? Ah, yes… let them eat cake. 11/10. Be there.

teacherman on July 2, 2010 at 12:41 AM

“What about members of Congress flying to Houston and taking some ships out of Galveston or Beaumont to see what’s going on from the water? – Steve Z on July 1, 2010 at 11:36 AM

That sounds good to me. They could use the use Nancy Pelosi’s jet to get down there.

SC.Charlie on July 2, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Frontline needs to get on this, stat!

Gyro on July 2, 2010 at 4:49 PM

Connect the dots… BP, Gaddafi, and Britain’s oil comeuppance;

Britain’s penchant for putting oil profits ahead of human life has a shameful precedent: Last year, the Scottish government released convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi allegedly in exchange for lucrative oil contracts in Libya. Leading British politicians have recently been running to defend BP from unwarranted American attack and “bashing Britain.” First we stole their tea.

Now we disparage their oil. The nerve…

It is now 10 months since the Lockerbie bomber’s release. It appears that miracles still happen, because the previously terminally ill patient is somehow alive and well and, according to Gaddafi’s son, “greatly improved” now that he is home in Libya. As for the reward to Britain, the Daily Mail reported that just five months after the bomber’s release “Libya announced plans to invest £5 billion in the UK.”

Lest we forget, Obama knew about BP’s sordid Lockerbie deal and did nothing… and the mainstream media crickets still chirp.

Terp Mole on July 2, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Comment pages: 1 2