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Oil Spill Command Center Turns Away ABC Reporter

3 years ago
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An ABC News reporter who made his way into the command center for BP's response to the Gulf Coast oil spill says he was turned away once he told officials he was from the media.

Reporter Brian Hartman says he flashed his ABC identification card and a guard waved him onto the grounds of the Unified Command Area in Robert, La., where BP, its contractors, the Coast Guard and other government agencies are coordinating efforts to deal with the growing oil slick. But when he got into the main building, Hartman was told he had to leave:

A door opened to the "Joint Information Center" room and I could see, for a flash, a hive of activity. But someone had taped pieces of copier paper over every inch of the room's glass walls.

When I ventured closer to where the unified commanding was being done, where response teams were responding and watching live video from the robot subs a mile beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, I ran into another woman at a card table and a security guard.

"Hi. I've just driven from Mobile to Robert and I'm here to get the lay of the land. I'm with ABC News," I said.

She looked mystified.

"You're joking," she laughed.

"Nope."

"Let me see your badge," she said.

I showed her my ABC ID.

"Oh dear. You drove all the way from Mobile? You're not supposed to be here."

Hartman was directed to a media staging area in a building across the street. It was empty. He phoned the number for the press center and reached a liaison:

"Where are you," he asked.

"Right outside your building."

"They let you in? You're not supposed to be here."

Hartman was told reporters aren't allowed to visit and that the entire campus was restricted.

Read Hartman's full report here.
Filed Under: Oil Spill

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