The Wall Street Journal’s Benoit Faucon got a hold of BP’s in-house magazine Planet BP, and has some fun with it.
But in Planet BP — a BP online, in-house magazine — a “BP reporter” dispatched to Louisiana managed to paint an even rosier picture of the disaster. “There is no reason to hate BP,” one local seafood entrepreneur is quoted as saying, as the region relies on the oil industry for work.
Indeed, the April 20 spill on the Deepwater Horizon is being reinvented in Planet BP as a strike of luck.
“Much of the region’s [nonfishing boat] businesses — particularly the hotels — have been prospering because so many people have come here from BP and other oil emergency response teams,” another report says. Indeed, one tourist official in a local town makes it clear that “BP has always been a very great partner of ours here…We have always valued the business that BP sent us.”
I found some more stories at BP.com by “BP reporters Tom Seslar and Paula Kolmar (who) are on the ground in the Gulf.”
Something tells me Seslar and Kolmar aren’t getting the run-around the rest of the press is from BP and its contractors.
Indeed, there’s a trove of BP propaganda on the site. Even a story as ostensibly negative as this one, which ledes… (all emphasis in this post is mine)
Betty and Elson Martin tell me they are worried. Her back was broken in a car accident three months ago, and he was diagnosed with bladder cancer a couple of weeks ago. Now they fear the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatens the seafood market and restaurant they’ve turned over to their three adult children.
…wraps up in the end to exhonerate good ol’ BP:
“There is no reason to hate BP,” Betty says as the three Martins analyze the situation from rockers on the front porch of Elson and Betty’s home. (The Martins and their married children - Jeffrey, Tanya Cheramie and Dana Gros - all live on the same short street about three blocks from B&E Seafood. The six grandchildren live on this street too.)
“The oil spill was an accident,” Elson says.
Another piece by Seslar, who calls himself a “BP journalist,” compares a taxi driver’s communications issues with that of oil-spilling, multinational corporation BP:
Paul, a well-spoken man supplementing his Social Security income by driving a Houston taxi, sees BP’s current image challenges as similar to what he faces all day long.
And the taxi driver, conveniently enough, has a parable for BP about why he, like a “BP journalist,” (sorry buddy, but you’re not a “journalist”) has to “stick to the facts”:
“The spill is a sad, unfortunate situation,” Paul offered as we rode along the freeway. “But I never know for sure how a particular rider feels about any subject. So no matter what topic comes up, I just stick to the facts. You can’t go wrong if you stick to the facts.
“If I would try to spin it one way or the other, I’d run the risk of losing my credibility and offending somebody at the same time,” Paul said to me. “That’s why I see a similarity between how you and I both have to operate. Just stick to the facts and you can’t go wrong.”
Again, BP doesn’t want to just stick to the facts because they’re devastating for it. That’s surely one reason it’s got “reporters” putting out propaganda in the Gulf. It’s obnoxious and completely tone-deaf, another apparently endemic BP trait.
Another “story” is a paean to the offshore-oil industry, with this lede:
My appreciation for the enormity of the oil industry as an economic contributor in the Gulf of Mexico climbed sharply within minutes after I hitched a ride aboard a helicopter that BP had chartered for a couple of oil hunters.
I bet it did!
That one includes this feature-puff/advertorial spiel:
Out here, flying at a height of up to 1,400 feet, the clouds are puffy white and brilliantly lighted but cast dark shadows on the wave-capped water below. We can see to the curvature of the earth and eventually pass over dozens of the more than 6,000 platforms that the oil and gas industry has built in US Gulf Coast waters during the past 60 some years.
That relatively brief span of development is remarkable. Although there were some primitive attempts at offshore production as far back as the 1890s off Ohio and California, the really big oil boom for the Gulf of Mexico didn’t begin until after World War II.