The corporate communications industry has gotten so ridiculous, so disconnected from reason and a sense of shame, or an obligation to provide some semblance of truth or credibility, that it's amazing we still listen to these people at all anymore. And the best example of that right now is BP, the oil giant that is well on its way being responsible for the worst oil spill in history.
Beyond the sheer magnitude of this Gulf of Mexico spill, there have been well-sourced media reports that political appointees in the regulator agencies ignored the warnings of Minerals Management Services scientists that a devastating spill was a real possibility and that even BP employees warned that a spill could happen and that internal documents were a mess.
But rather than simply accepting responsibility and their newfound infamy and humbly trying to make amends, BP's flaks have instead been sending out regular press releases attacking the media reports and making claims that this rig was safe, well-operated, and aggressively regulated – all evidence to the contrary.
“As CEO Tony Hayward constantly makes clear, safe and reliable operations are his number 1 priority for BP and the company has a very strong record of safe and reliable operations in the Gulf of Mexico,” the company wrote. “It is completely erroneous to suggest that the minor internal process issue we identified and immediately amended last year on the Atlantis platform suggests anything different.”
Sure, our rig blew up and created an oil gusher that we have no idea how to stop, but that doesn't mean we aren't “safe and reliable,” right? Um, actually it does, otherwise this wouldn't have happened. BP even tries to claim credit for the fact that this spill didn't happen even earlier.
“The Atlantis field has been in service since October 2007 and has safely produced many million barrels of oil. The platform was successfully maintained through the course of two major hurricanes in 2008. Its safety, operations and performance record is excellent,” they wrote.
Sure, right up until it was terrible. But even now, with the irreparable devastation this company has caused, they are also trying to sound like good guys for generously offering to pay for some of the ancillary damage they caused. Here's what the company sent out under the cheery heading, “BP Announces Tourism Grants to Four Gulf States”:
“BP is today announcing grants to each of the states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana to help their Governors promote tourism around the shores of the Gulf of Mexico over the coming months. This is part of our ongoing commitment to help mitigate the economic impact of the oil spill.
BP is providing $25 million to Florida and $15 million each to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. "The Gulf Coast is our home too. We are doing everything we can to plug the leak, contain the spill offshore and protect the shoreline. With the deployment of the riser insertion tool yesterday, we made important progress in containing the spill, and that will further strengthen our ability to keep oil off the shore,” said Tony Hayward, BP’s Group Chief Executive.
Sure, BP and their allies in the oil industry and the conservative movement put a cap of $75 million on how much the U.S. government can make oil companies pay to clean up their messes, but they're happy to promote the area they marinaded in crude oil as a tourist destination. This is a weird world we live in.