A Campaign of Misinformation


Those of us following the oil spill closely may be mocking that NOAA spill report from last week, the one declaring that the “vast majority” of the oil is gone. Certainly, the early reports took a cautious view and noted that the source was the same BP-friendly agency that advanced the now-infamous “5,000 gallons a day” flow estimates.

Look, some real scientists note that the report pretty much disproves its own rosy conclusions. So has the report been pushed to the fringes of mainstream coverage? No, in fact, it has become entrenched to the point that a widely distributed Associated Press story actually said this: “The government said last week that three-quarters of the spilled oil has been removed or naturally dissipated from the water.”

Now, it’s a stretch to label NOAA “the government” but not even those folks contended that the oil “naturally dissipated.” No, they contend that a couple million gallons of dispersant broke up the oil.

That’s the real harm of something like the NOAA report. Its conclusions would be laughed out of court while independent scientists mock it openly, and the White House squirms in defending its agency. But it gives a lot of ammunition to the ongoing, and frankly, increasingly effective campaign of misinformation.

© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – All Rights Reserved

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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