‘Uninhibited access’

‘UNINHIBITED ACCESS’…. Media coverage of the BP oil spill disaster has been affected by efforts to restrict journalist’s access. This morning, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen addressed this, and told ABC’s Jake Tapper about his latest orders on the subject.

TAPPER: Lastly, I saw firsthand when I was down in Louisiana over the weekend, all the workers there, whether they work for the governor or for BP or for private contractors who work for BP, they’ve all been told not to talk to the press, not to talk to the public about their work. Shouldn’t they be allowed to share with the public the work that they’re doing?

ALLEN: I put out a written directive and I can provide it for the record that says the media will have uninhibited access anywhere we’re doing operations, except for two things, if it’s a security or safety problem. That is my policy. I’m the national incident commander.

It wasn’t clear from the exchange exactly when the directive was issued — it may be brand new — but we can hope it’s part of a renewed effort to open up the response to more coverage.

I imagine there may be some chain-of-command questions — can the Coast Guard order a beach cleaner subcontracted by BP to talk to reporters? — but Allen made it sound as if news outlets with a problem can bring them to the national incident response team for redress.

Good. The efforts to lock out the press were hard to rationalize as legitimate.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.