As Oil Disaster Spreads, Right-Wing Media Promote 'Sabotage' Conspiracy Theory
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Limbaugh: "Environmental whackos" may have blown up oil rig to "head off more oil drilling." On his April 29 radio show, Rush Limbaugh questioned "the timing" of the explosion and said: "Lest we forget ... the cap and trade bill was strongly criticized by hardcore environmentalist whackos because it supposedly allowed more offshore drilling and nuclear plants." Limbaugh added: "[W]hat better way to head off more oil drilling and nuclear plants then by blowing up a rig? I'm just, I'm just noting the timing here."
Perino: "[W]as this deliberate?" On the May 3 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Dana Perino said of the spill: "I'm not trying to introduce a conspiracy theory, but was this deliberate? You have to wonder...if there was sabotage involved."
Bolling falsely claimed it was "nine days before" the leak "was even addressed" and asked, "Did they let this thing leak? ... if they're going to try and pull drilling, that may be the way they do it." On the same broadcast of Fox & Friends, Fox Business Network host Eric Bolling said: "The question is ... why the delay in the response? You guys were pointing out, nine days before it was even addressed, 12 days before he made a formal comment. The question is, did they let this thing leak? I mean, BP said maybe a thousand barrels a day, it went to five thousand. Did they let it leak a little bit and say, boy I don't know. The conspiracy theorists would say, 'maybe they'd let it leak for a while, and then they addressed the issue.'" Bolling added: "That would be a humongous accusation and probably the net result would be no different, but if they're going to try and pull drilling, that may be the way they do it."
White House immediately dispatched officials, Coast Guard to work on response
April 20 (10 p.m.): Oil rig explosion. An April 21 ABCNews.com article reported, "An overnight explosion in the Gulf of Mexico rocked the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Louisiana coast, sending spectacular bursts of flame into the sky. The fires were still raging today." The U.S. Coast Guard's National Oil and Hazardous Substances Response System assigns primary responsibility for cleaning up oil spills to the spiller as the responsible party.
April 21: Deputy Secretary of Interior, Coast Guard dispatched to region. An April 22 White House statement noted that following a briefing with President Obama, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, "Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes was dispatched to the region yesterday to assist with coordination and response." The Coast Guard announced that four units were responding to the fire, with additional units en route.
- Search and rescue efforts begin for 11 missing. An initial focus of the response was the search for 11 missing crewmembers. The search was called off April 23.
- BP confirms U.S. Coast Guard was "leading the emergency response" In an April 21 press release, British Petroleum stated that it was "working closely with Transocean and the U.S. Coast Guard, which is leading the emergency response, and had been offering its help - including logistical support."
- CNN.com: "The U.S. Coast Guard launched a major search effort." An April 22 CNN.com article reported:
The U.S. Coast Guard launched a major search effort Wednesday for 11 people missing after a "catastrophic" explosion aboard an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico engulfed the drilling platform in flames.