CNN national correspondent David Mattingly recently visited Pensacola to talk about his reporting on 2010 BP Gulf Oil Spill. He spent more time on the Gulf Coast during the disaster than any other national correspondent and created dozens of reports detailing the events and people involved. Mattingly shared his observations and clips of his reports at a luncheon on March 26 that was sponsored by the Pensacola chapters of the American Advertising Federation and Florida Public Relations Association.
Mattingly, a graduate of the University of Alabama, talked about his connection with the Gulf Coast. His family vacationed at Gulf Shores, Ala. As college student, he camped at Grayton Beach. He and his wife had their first married vacation at Fort Walton Beach.
“I’ve cover more hurricanes than I can remember—Frederick, Ivan, Katrina,” he said. “I know you have to live with the idea of possible disaster every year. I’ve seen the devastation of those hurricanes and watched your communities bounce back.”
He pointed out that the oil spill was something the community could not really prepare for.
Mattingly was on Pensacola Beach when the tar balls began to wash on shore.
“It was one of the most profound events of my carrier,” the CNN reporter said. “The beach looked like ice cream covered with chocolate syrup. People were crying like they had a death in their family.”
Mattingly’s reporting, much of which was shown on Anderson Cooper’s nightly show, was in sharp contrast to the media releases from BP.
He shared clips of his reporting during that spring and summer. The clips showed the endless red muddy line of oil floating on top of gulf, Louisiana marshes soaked with solid, black crude and underwater reef with little or no marine life.
Mattingly also talked about the uncertainty felt along the gulf coast by fishermen, business owners and residents. He told the story of Allen Kruse of Orange Beach, Ala., a charter boat captain who shot himself on his boat in June 2010. Friends believe it was the oil spill that triggered his suicide.
Kruse, a charter boat captain for 25 years, had signed up for BP’s Vessels of Opportunity program to spot oil, deploy boom and skim oil. Reportedly he was frustrated over the situation and depressed that his efforts were futile.
Mattingly said Kruse worked 14 days for BP and began to feel his efforts were worthless and that the VOP program was just for show.
He also talked about the studies being done to determine the full impact of the oil spill on marine life, beaches and marshes.
“There is so little we can say about the future of the gulf,” Mattingly said. “The story doesn’t have an end yet.”