Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shillings for BP's Shills

BP Pays Travel Writers to Visit Clean Beaches

Six travel writers — chauffeured around in a limo — are on Navarre Beach this weekend to get the word out that this summer's BP oil spill is over, and the beach, along with the rest of Santa Rosa County, is open for tourism.

Using money from BP, the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council hosted a familiarization — or "fam" — tour for select out-of-town reporters, showing them the pristine beaches and other assets of the county. . .

The tour was covered with part of $551,000 from BP, some of which also funded a voucher program which gave gift cards to tourists who stayed in local accommodations and this weekend's sand sculpture event on Navarre Beach.

BP's outrageous behavior does not stop, even after their well was allegedly capped. The company has just spent over half a million dollars to pay six travel writers to visit clean beaches in Florida and write in their national papers, magazines and web sites that everything is wonderful in the Gulf of Mexico, and that people should not hesitate to visit the region on vacation. BP got what they paid for:

"What the national media has been saying is totally untrue, for the most part, and blown totally out of proportion," Stern said. "What they're going to get from me is the truth. You can come down here, and you're not going to get oil on your feet or tar balls on your shoes. ... I haven't seen anything in the sand other than sand, and I've been swimming in the water."

Apryl Thomas, a freelance writer from Athens, Ga., has written about the oil spill on the coast for several websites and publications, including Southern Hospitality.

"I knew the spill was kind of blown up. I had done many articles when this happened. The way it was first covered in the national media, you honestly thought, 'It's gone,' but once I did a little research and calling, I felt like it is important to let people know everything is good to go."

What can you call these writers except bough-and-paid-for shills? I know -- vermin. To be chauffeured around in limousines and shown the clean beaches by BP's liaisons in this county, and to dutifully include in their articles exactly what BP wanted them to is a disgusting display of lack of journalistic integrity. The Gulf oil disaster has been "totally blown out of proportion" in the national media? Tell that to the tens of thousands of people that have lost their jobs. To the family of boat captain who committed suicide, and those of the 11 men who died onboard Deepwater Horizon. Try telling that to the thousands of cleanup workers and ordinary citizens who have been sickened by the oil, methane and Corexit dispersants.

Nearly $100,000 was spent to wine and dine and drive around each of these verminous shills. That's an awful lot of money for a couple days' vacation. I wonder if there perhaps were envelopes included in their gift baskets at the hotel, because it certainly doesn't cost a fraction of that money to fly a writer in, house, feed and drive them around the Florida beaches for a short trip. The article doesn't suggest this but I will -- BP paid the writers directly. It's paid advertising, it's a series of six infomercials in written form. But the residents of the Gulf of Mexico aren't dumb enough to believe this whitewash. Obviously BP is not going to fly their shills in and show them the beaches that are still contaminated, or new shoreline which is becoming contaminated as the hidden, underwater oil plumes continue to come ashore. We know what's really happening down there, and no amount of BP bribe cash or reporters' lies will change that.

1 comment: