I know Gambit strives to be the liberal voice of the New Orleans media but it really needs to get its facts right if it wishes to at least give the impression that it is trying to be unbiased. Author Jeremy Alford writes that Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ecologist Terry Hazen “says reporters also continue to make the mistake of comparing the Gulf disaster to Alaska’s Exxon Valdez spill.” Alford continues, “The best comparison, Hazen says, is the Ixtoc I spill, which occurred in 1979 in the Western Gulf. It emptied 71,500 barrels of oil into the ocean, compared to BP’s 5 billion barrels of crude”. A simple online trip to Wikipedia reveals that the Ixtoc spill emptied 3 million barrels of crude into the Gulf, an amount 40 times greater than Alford asserts. Perhaps Mr Alford made a simple error rather than attempt to mislead the reader by casting doubt on the validity of Dr Hazen’s Ixtoc spill/BP spill comparison, as the number Alford quotes is the amount of oil which reached US beaches (not the total amount spilled). I doubt it though as he compounds his factual errors by stating that BP spilled 5 billion barrels of crude, an amount 1000 times greater that the actual amount of 5 million barrels as per Wikipedia (and not 50 million as the above commenter indicated). And he further subtly (& unfairly I believe) questions the credibility of Dr Hazen, the winner of the US Department of Energy’s 2005 Biological and Environmental Research Distinguished Scientist Award, by using the fact that Dr Hazen’s research into oil-eating microbes was funded by BP as an example of “few things connected with the BP disaster are as they seem.” Here we have a journalist who can’t tell the difference between 5 million and 5 billion questioning the credibility of an award winning scientist. Nice. Indeed, few things are as they seem when an obviously biased reporter furthering an agenda can’t even get simple facts correct.
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