It was disappointing to see a boatload of CBS reporters allow themselves to be intimidated from covering the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But it was even more disappointing to see Coast Guard officials tell the reporters that it was “BP’s rules, it’s not ours’” after threatening them with arrest if they didn’t keep moving.

They should have taken them up on their challenge just to see on what charges they would be arrested on.

The CBS reporters said they spoke to the Coast Guard, who were “looking into it.”

We still haven’t see any followup from them and we probably won’t.

But the Coast Guard released a statement insinuating that neither the Coast Guard or BP has any rules prohibiting the media from accessing affected areas in the gulf – if they are embedded with either the Coast Guard or BP.

Tonight CBS Evening News reported they were denied access to oiled shoreline by a civilian vessel that had clean-up workers contracted by BP, as well as Coast Guard personnel on board.  CBS News video taped the exchange during which time one of the contractors told them (on tape) that ” … this is BP’s rules not ours.”

Neither BP nor the U.S. Coast Guard, who are responding to the spill, have any rules in place that would prohibit media access to impacted areas and we were disappointed to hear of this incident.  In fact, media has been actively embedded and allowed to cover response efforts since this response began, with more than 400 embeds aboard boats and aircraft to date.  Just today 16 members of the press observed clean-up operations on a vessel out of Venice, La.

The only time anyone would be asked to move from an area would be if there were safety concerns, or they were interfering with response operations.  This did occur off South Pass Monday which may have caused the confusion reported by CBS today.

The entities involved in the Deepwater Horizon/BP Response have already reiterated these media access guidelines to personnel involved in the response and hope it prevents any future confusion.

Rob Wyman
Lieutenant Commander, USCG
Deepwater Horizon Unified Command
Joint Information Center, Robert, LA

As the ProPublica Blog points out, “BP hasn’t yet been able to stop the flow of oil, but it’s been more successful at controlling the information coming out about the Gulf disaster.”

The blog also points to a McClatchy article about how BP is refusing to release the results of tests that would determine the safety factor towards workers being exposed to the burning oil.

And the government, of course, is allowing them to withhold this information.

After all, the government is even more embedded than the media with BP.