“I’ll be here in the Gulf as long as it takes to make this right,” promises new BP spokesperson Darryl Willis, the man in charge of handling claims and the new face of BP responsibility for the Gulf cleanup. But is the TV spot that features him sincere or is it more spin? Should we be inspired by his commitment? Or skeptical of corporate PR?
It’s complicated. Yes, there are people on the ground — BP employees, government workers and others — who are working hard and truly dedicated to cleaning up the mess and “making this right”. There are also people who are, no doubt, working equally hard to hide the truth, cut corners, and make BP shareholders more money. Is it OK to be inspired by BP’s commitment to fix the problem when BP’s negligence caused it? Is it more spin, or, in the face of the enormity of the problem, are they now sincere? And as witnesses to reports of the disaster and response, what are we to believe?
On a positive note, the media is giving decent coverage to alternative solutions — everything from Kevin Costner’s centrifuge machines to scientists who tout oil-eating bacteria to clean the shores — without using the mocking tone usually reserved for anything outside the mainstream.
Perhaps this shall be one of those times in our history when an enormous challenge will bring out the best in American ingenuity. Or maybe we are one big hurricane away from the brink of disaster. It’s hard to tell — it’s complicated.