June 20, 2010
Posted: 09:46 PM ET
One day in early May, I flew over the oil spill site with a prominent environmental attorney from New Orleans. As I saw the oil sheen and streaks of orange-tinted oil, I realized we would never really grasp the magnitude of this disaster unless we could see the oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.
Later that same day a source told me, "you know they have video cameras that record the oil leak 24 hours a day." That set off a series of requests to BP, the Coast Guard and anyone else who would listen asking for access to video images of the leak. Myself and several CNN colleagues asked for days and days to no avail.
So on the morning of May 11th we rolled out a story essentially asking, where's the video? We showed how BP's public relations machine had time to produce and edit videos showing off the CEO Tony Hayward's handling of the response. The company could put out these videos but it wouldn't let the world see the most critical aspect of the story – the actual leak.
The day after our report and with pressure from Congress, BP released a 30-second video clip.
I would argue that's when the story became a huge deal. The oil flow rate estimates have skyrocketed ever since that day. From 1,000 barrels a day to almost 60-thousand barrels a day now. And that number will likely go up again.
The video let the world see first hand this wasn't just any ordinary oil spill, it was quickly becoming this country's worst environmental disaster ever.
Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill
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