ABC reporter covering oil spill at Alabama beach says he’s hassled by BP while covering cleanup

Friday, June 11, 2010
By Paul Martin
Friday, June 11, 2010

ABC reporter Matt Gutman says he received a less than polite reception from a BP-hired cleanup manager when he set up camp to report from an Alabama public beach on Thursday.

In video recorded while Gutman was preparing to broadcast a “conversation” segment, the manager can be heard asking Gutman what he was doing and telling him his choice of location was “interesting.”

In an interview about how reporters covering the cleanup are treated, Gutman said it is not uncommon to be hassled and that the cleanup workers hired by BP are under orders not to talk to the media.

Gutman said the workers won’t even answer when asked who they work for.

A BP spokesman said “It is not our intention and we stated as policy that the press should not be denied access to any part of the operation.”

“There’s probably various degrees of understanding of that policy down into the ranks, especially with the contractors,” press officer Daren Beaudo told the Press-Register, “and so recently we reissued that policy to reinforce our intention to provide the press the access that they require.”

Beaudo said that of course the company cannot force workers to talk to the press if they do not want to, but “we are committed to providing the press access.”

Beaudo said he had not seen the video in question, but said, “I personally took Matt (Gutman) to a shoreline cleanup in Venice,” referring to Venice, La. “Our apologies if any member of the press has run into those kind of barriers,” Beaudo said. “I think this is more an issue of communicating our policy out into the ranks.”

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