"It is impossible to say and we will mount, as part of the aftermath, a very detailed environmental assessment. But everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environmental impact will be very, very modest."
(BP CEO Tony Hayward, May 18, 2010)
I was planning to write the obligatory "what the oil spill means for social media" blog post but that's really just ridiculous. To be honest this is as close to a 20th-century media crisis scenario as we've seen in some time. The public is heavily reliant on professional journalists to get the story, a very large company is doing its best to control the flow of information (and compounding the damage to its own reputation in the process), the federal government is flailing about, and Members of Congress are threatening to write very sternly-worded letters if things don't improve eventually. Oh, and there's a CEO out there saying some profoundly stupid things. Sure there are some nice tech tools in play here - obviously - but this is a straight-up, mainstream media-driven story.
But as always the real story is the actual debacle, not the PR debacle. And we're learning the scope of this EPIC FAIL one merciless drip at a time.
Meanwhile, in the government...
Meanwhile, the politicians and beltway clowns jockey for soundbites and political advantage. The Republican governor of Louisiana who likes the idea of small government and refused that stimulus package money is nowdemanding more money from the feds and wants the Army Corps of Engineers all over the place STAT. The Senate Assistant Majority Leader istrying to come up with two-word catch-phrases that begin with the letters B and P. And the Chatty Kathy's of the very serious Washington punditry club were first falling over themselves to call this "Obama's Katrina," then when that didn't stick they were wondering aloud "where is the oil?" and now thatthe oil is all over marshlands and pelicans and stuff it's the liberals who are all pissed.
And Gulf Coast fishermen are wondering if they'll ever work again.