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Friday, July 30, 2010

Is reporting that all the oil seems to have disappeared from the Gulf a cheap rhetorical question used by credulous reporters? (See what we did there?)

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 9:03 PM

Gol-ly. From reading and watching the news this week, you'd sure think that all the oil in the Gulf went poof and drained back down the Deepwater Horizon hole -- or transformed itself into seawater, or just evaporated, or turned into delicious petroleum-based Gummi Bears that were then eaten by Little Mermaids.

Or -- maybe -- the use of dispersant sank the oil beneath the surface, breaking it down so that it really didn't go away, but you just can't see it anymore. Kinda like when you're playing peekaboo with a baby, you know? Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's gone away.

The most elemental concept of object permanence seemed to elude the national media in the last couple of days, as they stampeded to ask disingenuous rhetorical questions, teasing out the possibility that maybe the worst environmental disaster in American history just wasn't that gosh-darn bad -- but leaving themselves weasel-room to crawfish back if and when someone called BS. Check this from Hardball yesterday afternoon on MSNBC:

click to enlarge hardball

Or this, from Time magazine, written by Michael Grunwald:

click to enlarge time mag

There's a lot more of this under the jump ... wait! Did you have a question, Diane Sawyer?

click to enlarge diane

Dang! Under the jump, we'll find out: What happened to all the oil?

click to enlarge telegraph

click to enlarge vf

Vanity Fair is my favorite, just because someone actually wrote this:

While experts remain positive that the oil is still in the Gulf — “That stuff's somewhere,” a researcher hypothesized to the paper — most of it is AWOL.

An unnamed researcher "hypothesized" that the oil was just playing hide-and-seek with us? Hell of a hypothesis. But by this afternoon, all the questions were over. Turns out the oil was there all along! The laws of physics and the notion of object permanence still stand!

Listening to some reports in the media this week, you might get the idea that the BP oil spill was a 100-day-long bad dream. ... "Where is all the oil?" an AFP headline asked. Time magazine ran a piece suggesting that the environmental impact of the spill has been "exaggerated." And the New York Times ran a story that said the "Gulf oil spill is vanishing fast."

Many coastal scientists and other experts insist that the oil hasn't gone anywhere. Millions of gallons of oil are still beneath the surface, they say, and all that crude probably won't rise to the surface until it reaches the shallower waters closer to shore. The oil is appearing gradually, mostly because of the steady stream of dispersants that BP has used to break up the oil into tiny patches. Scientists worry that the millions of gallons of dispersants have not curtailed the ecological impact of the spilled oil, but rather have effectively transferred the oil from one part of the ecosystem to another.

OK, now that we have that settled -- any other questions?

click to enlarge diane

Oh, Diane!

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