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Democrat's Block Amendment to Ensure Press Access to Oil Spill


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Washington Examiner:

Democrats block amendment to ensure press access to oil spill
Commentary Staff Writer
07/15/10 12:20 AM EDT

Democrats refused to allow a vote today on an amendment introduced today by Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., to ensure press access to the gulf oil spill. Broun's amendment was a response to numerous reports that government authorities and BP are keeping the press away from areas affected by the spill. The amendment reads as follows:

Except in cases of imminent harm to human life, federal officials shall allow free and open access to the media of oil spill clean up activity occurring on public lands or public shorelines, including the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The amendment was introduced during committee markup of the CLEAR Act, a cap and trade bill being championed by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

“The media has a responsibility to not only accurately report the news but to keep everyone associated with the spill accountable. President Obama promised transparency, but we have seen numerous examples where that is not the case," said Rep. Broun in a statement. "There is no excuse for reporters and photographers to be denied access to public places unless their life is in imminent danger. This amendment is necessary in order to eliminate any confusion and ensure that First Amendment rights truly are protected.”

Media outlets such as The New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review, and NPR have written damning reports of the government's unreasonable attempts to limit access to the spill. The New Orleans Times-Picayune was prohibited from flying a plane over the spill so a photographer could get pictures. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., was denied permission to take a boat out to the spill with reporters and examine the catastrophe affecting his state. The Associated Press sent a letter of protest with the White House over the arbitrary restrictions. A CBS camera crew was threatened with arrest for trying to report from a beach affected by the spill.

On Tuesday, responding to the criticism, National Incident Commander Thad Allen lifted the 65 ft media ban for credentialed journalists. But if past is prologue, it's unlikely that we've seen the end of unfair press restrictions in the gulf.
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A 65 ft buffer is for safety reasons when it comes to boats.


65 feet on land is nothing.


Speaking of which, there is nothing like hyperbole



CNN’s Anderson Cooper recently harshly criticized the Coast Guard’s “safety zone” policy on air. He argued that the 65-foot buffer made it much more difficult to get pictures of oil-soaked birds or boom. Similarly, photographers for the New Orleans Times-Picayune said it was already difficult to capture images of oiled birds when at the edge of the boom. Adding an additional 65-foot buffer means “you’d have to mount a telescope” to the camera to get a clear picture, photographer Matthew Hinton said.








Matthew Hinton and his new lens

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