BP Launches Massive PR Campaign To Demonize Oil Spill Victims

BP, the oil giant that, along with Halliburton and Transocean, was responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, is crying foul in the claims process of settlements for the victims of the spill.  The company has launched a massive public relations offensive to paint themselves as the victims in this situation.

According to The Hill, BP CEO Bob Dudley said recently that the entire claims process has been “absurd,” and that his company has been more than generous with their payments.  BP spokesperson Geoff Morrell said:  “While we remain committed to paying legitimate claims, we did not agree to pay for fictitious losses, or for claims that are based on fraud or tainted by corruption.”

While the overall PR war may appear to be aimed at the victims along the Gulf Coast, the real targets of BP’s campaign are trial lawyers.  They have even enlisted the help of the largest business lobby and strongest advocates for “tort reform”, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Hill reports that a recent ad placed by BP in The Washington Post quoted National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons, saying, “Too often these days, the tort system is nothing more than a trial-lawyer bonanza, and that’s not fair to individuals seeking redress and no way to encourage investment in manufacturing to create tomorrow’s high-paying jobs.”

The reason that the company is trying to paint the claims process as plagued with fraud is that they had underestimated the amount of claims that they would have to pay out, and their settlement fund is quickly running dry.  This means that subsequent payments will have to come directly out of the company’s profits, a move that is not sitting well with shareholders who were promised that the price tag would not exceed $8 billion

BP CEO Bob Dudley has already been castigated by the judge overseeing the settlement process for attempting to try his case in the media, with Judge Carl Barbier saying that the language Dudley has been using in the national media is “crossing the line.”  For the last month, BP has been running newspaper ads like the one mentioned above, as well as doing interviews with media figures to paint themselves in a more positive light while demonizing the victims along the coast.

Recently, I filled in as guest host for the Ring of Fire TV program on Free Speech TV, where I spoke with investigative journalist Rick Outzen about BP’s PR tactics, and the two segments can be viewed below:

BP would love for the American public to forget the fact that they have already had to plead guilty to obstruction of justice for misleading the federal government about the amount of oil that was spewing from their broken well-head on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. 

They would also like the public to forget about their past history of intentionally endangering workers because it was cheaper to pay off the families of workers who are killed than it is to pay for mechanisms to make the workplace safer.  And then there are also the federal investigations into the company’s practice of price gouging in both the United States and Europe that they hoped to sweep under the rug.

There are plenty of victims along the Gulf Coast, but BP is not one of them.  As a lifelong resident of this area, I find it both offensive and absolutely appalling that BP is telling the world that they deserve the public’s sympathy in this case.