Residents along the Gulf Coast are approaching an unpleasant anniversary – The 5-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oilrig disaster and spill. Soon after that April anniversary, we’ll hit another 5-year reminder of the day that almost all of mainstream media hosts stopped paying attention to the destruction that BP caused to the Gulf Coast.
Well, all but one cable news host stopped paying attention. While the rest of the media was out looking for a new disaster to cover, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz devoted unprecedented coverage to the suffering and environmental destruction that was happening in the Gulf of Mexico.
I remember driving to our local TV studio with Mike Papantonio nearly every day from late April 2010 to August 2010 for his appearances on The Ed Show. During that time frame, we made more than 100 trips to that studio to talk about what was happening to the Gulf Coast, and with the exception of a handful of appearances on Hardball, every single one of those trips was for an Ed Show appearance.
But Ed wasn’t simply inviting Mike on to say that things were bad or that BP wasn’t doing enough. Ed wanted information – he wanted to know the truth about how this happened and who was responsible. He wanted to know the political ties and regulatory failures that helped create the disaster. He wanted us to tell the story so that his audience could not only understand the issue, but understand that the story didn’t go away once the other media outlets stopped paying attention.
It was during this time that Ed covered issues that other media outlets and cable hosts still haven’t covered to this day. Pap was able to tell the story of how Dick Cheney’s cozy relationship with Minerals Management Service gave BP, Transocean, and Halliburton a pass on vital safety inspections. Ed covered the story on how Cheney, starting all the way back in 2001, began working to decrease regulatory oversight for offshore drilling activities that helped prevent the government from being able to step in to make sure the Deepwater Horizon oilrig was up to code (which it wasn’t.)
Ed was talking about the dangers of the oil spill dispersant Corexit before anyone else in the media began paying attention to the toxic mixture. He told the story of how the EPA specifically told BP that they couldn’t use the dispersant, but the oil giant said they were going to do what they wanted, and the EPA simply rolled over on the issue.
Ed gave Pap the platform to tell the story of how a mere $500 replacement part could have prevented the entire disaster from even happening, but because profits are more important than safety, that $500 part was never ordered.
I have written more stories about the oil spill and its aftermath than I can even count. I researched and discussed with Pap every single one of those segments that he did with Ed. I live on the Gulf Coast, and that’s why the mainstream media’s silence on the issue is so infuriating. Had it not been for Ed Schultz’s coverage of the oil spill, many of the facts that we all know about the spill today would never have been made public.
And unlike the rest of the media, Ed’s concern about the Gulf of Mexico did not stop once the wellhead was capped. Last weekend, Ed visited the Gulf Coast where he met with attorneys, residents, and business owners who saw their livelihoods destroyed as a result of corporate negligence. He wasn’t down here just to give us an update on what’s happened – he wanted to put human faces on the disaster. And that’s what has been missing from the discussion for so long. These segments will begin airing on his show on Monday, February 16th, and they will give the country a glimpse into the lives of those who are still trying to rebuild their lives five years after their worlds were turned upside down.
BP has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to convince the rest of the country that the oil spill claims process has been hijacked by greedy Gulf Coast residents who are just looking to make a quick buck. BP says that they are the actual victims. Evidence even suggests that they have employed online trolls to harass citizens who are critical of the company’s actions along the Gulf Coast.
The company is still trying to avoid liability for their role in the disaster, even as more and more oil is found on our beaches and at the bottom of the Gulf. BP has a very strong, very loud voice in the media, and if it weren’t for Ed Schultz and his exceptional coverage and dedication to this issue, the real victims along the Gulf Coast would have no voice at all in the mainstream media.