Professor contracted by BP criticizes news media — Mentions “conflicting interests”

OIL SPILL SYMPOSIUM: Disaster prompts campus event, University of Georgia Red and Black Newspaper, January 25, 2011:

Irv Mendelssohn, an adjunct professor in the department of oceanography and coastal sciences at LSU, will also be participating in one of the panels on Wednesday.

“It’s a great idea to have a symposium to try to reconcile the sometimes conflicting interests of these parties, and to provide objective assessments to the news media,” Mendelssohn said. “Often, though they have a laudable goal of disseminating information to the public, they can sensationalize things. This is a conference that’s really going to look at that question.”

BP accused of ‘buying academic silence’, BBC, July 22, 2010:

The BBC has obtained a copy of a contract offered to scientists by BP. It says that scientists cannot publish the research they do for BP or speak about the data for at least three years, or until the government gives the final approval to the company’s restoration plan for the whole of the Gulf. …

And it adds that scientists must take instructions from lawyers offering the contracts and other in-house counsel at BP. …

Irv Mendelssohn is a professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University. “What I’m doing wouldn’t be any different than if I was consulting with one of the natural resource trustees. I am giving my objective opinion about recovery.” …

Prof Mendelssohn says he would negotiate his normal consulting fee, which is between $150 and $300 an hour. But he says that is not why he is doing it.

Editorial: Is BP buying up the scientists?, Press Register, July 20, 2010:

What’s more, according to one attorney who examined the contract, its provisions make the scientists part of BP’s legal team. When they sign on, they agree to communicate with BP through the company’s attorneys and take orders from them. So, any kind of information they exchange could be considered privileged.

Even now, the practical effects can already be felt at research meetings held on the oil spill. Before any business is conducted, everyone has to determine who’s working for BP and how any conflicts will be addressed.

1 comment to Professor contracted by BP criticizes news media — Mentions “conflicting interests”

  • soozla

    He’s a shill….
    What conflict of interest? Wait till he finds out that this so-called “sensational journalism” is freely
    given. Zero….conflicting interests with our hearts and souls.

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