CBS announced this week that every week, ‘for the duration of the crisis,’ Harry Smith and Katie Couric will anchor from the Gulf Coast.
We talked to Smith today about the decision by CBS News, BP’s lack of transparency, and Smith’s theory on government involvement in the clean-up.
Here are a couple key exchanges, with the full interview after:
(1:58) Mediaite: What do you think of BP? There has been criticism of the way they’ve dealt with the media, of not being completely transparent. How have they been in your dealings with them?
Smith: Well we talked to one of the guys this morning, and just asked a couple of pretty basic questions. You have scientific entity after scientific entity and all these research groups saying there’s this big plume of oil down underneath the surface. And they continue to deny that it exits. It’s some kind of Alice in Wonderland world we’re living in, where there’s reality on one side and then there’s BP’s reality.
(5:06) Mediaite: It sounds like CBS is really putting their resources into the story. You could be in for the long haul. What, in your mind, is behind the decision to do this?
Smith: I think a couple of things happened. I have a daily radio commentary that I do and almost from Day 1 that this happened I saw that this was going to be a real catastrophe. And I think its difficult for people to visually get their brains around it until they’ve seen the effects of the oil. Now we’re starting to see it, and the realization of how many millions and millions and millions of gallons have poured out of that hole…it may have taken awhile but I think people have finally gotten that this is a colossal mess.
(6:18) Mediaite: A lot of the criticism so far has been aimed at BP but also President Obama, talking about the style, the way , he’s dealt with this. As someone who has covered this from the beginning, have you seen an evolution in the way Pres. Obama has taken on this crisis?
Smith: I don’t want to get on my editorial side too much. The problem in these catastrophes, and what these folks down there understand is if you wait for some governmental entity to intervene and help you out, you’ll be overwhelmed by the problem by the time it gets around to happening. This is not unique…In some ways, yes there needs to be a greater government response, but the greater government response probably needs to be less government. If there’s a greater government response there’s just that much more red tape. Then these people are going to end up strangling you. So they’ll either drown from the oil or get strangled by the red tape. The smartest response needs to be how do we help these people best, not how do we throw more agencies on top of the freakin’ mess.
Check out the full interview here, including how long Smith thinks he’ll be returning to the Gulf Coast as part of CBS News’ plan (“for the rest of my life” is an option):
Have a tip we should know? email@example.com