The Denver Post announced Ken Salazar’s departure as Secretary of the Interior this morning with a laughable air brush to the biggest scandal during his reign atop the department. The Post‘s coverage mentions the BP oil spill debacle only in passing, as if it were a field trip Salazar took.
He has also dealt with several natural and environmental disasters, including the explosion of a BP-operated deep water oil well, Deepwater Horizon, in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.
Roughly 53,000 gallons of crude poured into the sea a day for nearly three months. While weathering criticism, Salazar issued a moratorium on new offshore drilling leases and launched an aggressive overhaul of safety standards for offshore oil and gas development.
This white wash should not be all that unexpected considering it’s the work of Allison Sherry, the Post‘s personal Democrat blogger.
In fact, Salazar’s continued bungling of the crisis earned a black eye for the administration, and broadly undercut Salazar’s status in the administration.
From a column in the liberal LA Times at the time of the oil spill:
And until last week, Obama’s authority and credibility were leaking away with the gulf’s oil.
As with Katrina, the White House responded to an unexpected problem with hesitation and missteps. Obama’s aides were slow to assert federal responsibility; they initially described the problem as BP’s to solve, not theirs. After that wore thin, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar abruptly suggested that the federal government might seize control of the well — only to be publicly contradicted by his crisis manager, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who said such a move would be foolish.
As with Katrina, there have been angry demands from hot-tempered Louisianans — including former Bill Clinton-aide James Carville — for quicker federal action to rescue their state. And as with Katrina, cleaning up the mess and paying for the damage will take years.
Only a “reporter” as shoddy as Sherry would write up Salazar’s departure with a mere passing glance at the biggest scandal of his tenure, nor mention a thing about the low view the Obama administration held him. It’s amazing what counts for journalism at the state’s flagship newspaper these days.
Here’s what some real journalists have said about the lack of trust Salazar engendered in the Obama administration.
As executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources in the cabinet of Governor Roy Romer, 20 years ago, Ken Salazar played a key political advisory role; he plays no comparable role as interior secretary today.
Some, such as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, were criticized by White House officials as erratic spokesmen – in his case, after he said that the government would put a”boot on the neck” of the BP oil company during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Shortly into that crisis, White House officials clamped down on who could speak in public about it, assigning prominent roles to then-press secretary Robert Gibbs and environmental adviser Carol Browner but rarely putting Salazar before the cameras after that.
“Erratic spokesman”, “no key political advisory role” — Yup, Salazar just came home to spend more time with family. In no way was he pushed.