America's Gulf: Ongoing Coverup and Denial - by Stephen Lendman
On October 22, AP reported that over 7,000 square miles of Gulf waters off Florida's Panhandle were declared oil-free and reopened to fishing. According the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 96% of Gulf waters are now safe and reopened, spokeswoman Jane Lubchenco saying, "Our tests continue to reveal seafood from the reopened areas is safe to eat." Others disagree. More on that below.
The newly opened area is about 60 miles east of the Macondo wellhead. About 9,400 square miles of fishing waters remain closed, 4% of federal waters, down from 37% earlier.
From the start, The New Times provided cover for BP and the administration, at first denying the existence of a spill, then minimizing the disaster. On May 3, writers John Broder and Tom Zeller Jr. headlined, "Gulf Oil Spill Is Bad, but How Bad? saying "news analysis" indicates it's really not serious after all, when evidence showed the potential for disaster.
On August 4, writer Justin Gillis headlined, "US Finds Most Oil From Spill Poses Little Additional Risk," saying:
"The government is expected to announce....that three-quarters of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak has already evaporated, dispersed, been captured or otherwise eliminated - and that much of the rest is so diluted that it does not seem to pose much additional risk of harm."
This at a time, and later on, when independent research showed most oil remained. Corexit dispersants increased toxicity manyfold. Seafood was contaminated and unsafe. Vast areas of the Gulf and shorelines were (and continue to be) hazardous, and the risk to wildlife and human health was extreme. In other words, by downplaying the disaster, The Times defended government and BP lies, fearing the April 20 explosion provided "new fodder" for opponents.
Other Times reports highlighted the vanishing oil, low concentrations of deep sea toxic compounds, and conditions slowly returning to normal. In an October 12 update, The Times said: