It’s a bit emblematic of their opinion pages: today the Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece by BP’s chief executive discussing their actions in response to the spill, while the Washington Post published an op-ed asking why BP’s CEO hasn’t been fired.
Wall Street Journal: Tony Hayward: What BP Is Doing About the Gulf Gusher
Washington Post: Why is Tony Hayward still on the job?
I’ve been reading as much as I can about the spill over the last few weeks from Brussels, Dublin, Rome and London. It’s been interesting to see the foreign media cover this — in London, I’ve seen quite a bit of “this-is-bad-for-Britain” coverage, in Dublin, I’ve seen truly removed, outside perspective coverage and in American news outlets, it’s read like the apocalypse.
PR-wise, this is an obvious disaster for BP. But it could be one for Obama, too — the consensus I’ve gotten from left, right, middle and other political commentators seems to be that this oil spill could dramatically hurt Obama. His handling of it, particularly his lack of emotion, has been extremely counterproductive in the eyes of a lot of respected political strategists. Everyone’s pointing to him unsuccessfully avoiding the Bush-Katrina label. One of the most damning articles I’ve read on Obama & the spill comes from the WSJ’s conservative Peggy Noonan:
I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill.
The original sin in my view is that as soon as the oil rig accident happened the president tried to maintain distance between the gusher and his presidency. He wanted people to associate the disaster with BP and not him. When your most creative thoughts in the middle of a disaster revolve around protecting your position, you are summoning trouble.
Today, I read that the oil spill is considered “the worst environmental disaster in United States history” according to Carol Browner, Obama’s chief adviser on energy and the environment. I also saw the infamous AP photos showing seabirds caught in the oil slick.
What a depressing, disgusting mess. For a dark laugh on all of this, visit the faux Twitter for BP’s PR outreach: http://twitter.com/bpglobalpr