A gasoline spill south of Birmingham, Alabama, last Friday led to the shutdown of an important pipeline that delivers fuel to much of the South and East. It is expected to cause shortages and prices will rise dramatically. A Colonial Pipeline Co. pipeline leak of at least 250,000 gallons of gasoline It could have severe environmental impact in the surrounding area.
Hackers released e-mails between Colonial public relations executives through Wikileaks, which as made them public. Here is an except from the leaked e-mails.
Petrolman#1 "Hey, Charlie, TV is just talking about this will interfere with the public's happy motoring because gas prices will skyrocket. Increase in prices means less driving. This creates a possibility for our TV campaign on this thing. We say the environmental impact is good because it will cut down on carbon emissions.
Charlieman: The public is stupid, but not that stupid. How about we promote the idea that it's the fault of government overregulation. Fox will buy that!
Petrolman#1: I don't know Charlie. If we bring the word "government" into it somebody on MSNBC like Laurence O'Donnell might bring up the fact that we've paid millions in EPA fines over the years for unnecessary spillage.
Charlieman: I wouldn't worry about O'Donnell. He's on late at night. Nobody listens to him and the networks aren't going to trash us. Exxon and the other advertisers won't allow it.
Petrolman#1. So what's the spin?
Charlieman: I think the angle is to pitch the idea that we're a responsible public citizen and we're working hard to get gasoline to hard working Americans. We'll coordinate press releases with a commercial to run in parts of the South and East where gas will be short and cost high.
Petrolman#1. Good Idea. I'll call a meeting and Sylvia and the others will write the damn thing. Let's get Morgan Freeman to narrate it…no, he won't do it he's got principles.
The final product was a 30 second spot asserting that Colonial was a "good neighbor" who "made a mistake just like all of us do." "But like any hard-working American who plays by the rules we're remedying our mistake." "The Colonial family is on the job."
The ad then zooms in on the faces of workers sealing the pipeline, replacing it with new pipe, digging up soil, and so on. As the picture of individual workers is shown, a video shot of his/her family is pictured, waving and smiling. Finally, an attractive 10-year-old freckled boy beams into camera and says, "My dad is on the job."
A Morgan Freeman like voice booms, "Colonial Pipeline, From Our Family To Yours.