In a classic Friday afternoon news dump, BP has apparently demoted the bumbling Tony Hayward. According to the New York Times:This move might have made sense a month ago, when it first became clear that Hayward had been born, tragically, without a smidgen of self-awareness. But after yesterday’s performance before Congress, I’m not so sure this is justified or wise for BP: whatever Jedi mind trick Hayward employed to compel Joe Barton’s apology seems like a most useful asset. Most of the reaction today wasn’t about “evil BP” but about what a blinkered moron Barton was for apologizing. If I were running BP, I wouldn’t be so quick to give that up.
Nicole Allan at The Atlantic:
After his grueling testimony before Congress yesterday, BP CEO Tony Hayward is being moved out of the limelight. Carl-Henric Svanberg, chairman of the company, has announced that Hayward will no longer be overseeing day-to-day clean-up operations in the Gulf. He will return to England while BP’s managing director, Robert Dudley, takes over the company’s spill response effort.
Dudley’s appointment is a clear attempt on BP’s part to re-brand its reaction to the spill. He grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and often spent summers on the Gulf Coast. He has expressed horror at the damage the spill has levied on the region and lends a more sympathetic, in-touch, and, significantly, American presence to BP’s leadership team.
Hayward, on the other hand, has been pegged as an arrogant, unfeeling Brit. The American media slammed his cold, complacent demeanor at yesterday’s hearing, but the U.K. papers took a different stance. The Daily Mail ran a story titled, “Sliced and Diced on Capitol Hill: BP Boss Treated Like Public Enemy No. 1 by American Politicians,” while the Daily Express compared the hearing to a “public execution.” Hayward has not done much to endear himself to the reeling residents of the Gulf Coast, notoriously saying that he wants to get the spill under control because he’d “like [his] life back.”
Of course, Hayward’s dismissal from US public operations, means little to the elements of the spill that truly matter — like stopping it, for starters. Whether or not Hayward is around to make an ass of himself and his company probably has little bearing on how the cleanup effort is orchestrated (though if his public remarks have been any indicator, his common sense may be, well, lacking …).
Regardless, the well keeps on gushing oil, crude continues to make landfall, and life around the Gulf continues to be threatened. So let’s all bid our pal Tony adieu — I mean, the poor guy is finally getting his life back.
Danny Groner at Huffington Post:
With word that Hayward is out as a spokesperson, bloggers delivered the expected and necessary snark upon word of his dismissal. They did their jobs in eerily similar ways, taking Hayward’s words and using them against him. Here, a collection of some of the headlined punch lines being hurled at the executive:
“Tony Hayward, BP CEO, gets his life back, no longer in charge of running Gulf cleanup operations”- New York Daily News
“Tony Hayward Gets His Life Back”-Time
“Rejoice: BP’s Tony Hayward Will Get His Life Back”-Gawker
“Tony Hayward Gets His Life Back”-DealBreaker
“BP’s Hayward ‘Gets Life Back’ in Demotion”-NewsMax
“BP CEO Tony Hayward Relieved Of Day-To-Day Gulf Duties, Gets Life Back”-Mediaite
“BP CEO Tony Hayward Does Not Want His Life Back Anymore”-New York magazine
Here’s hoping Carl-Henric Svanberg steps down and in turn gets repeatedly labeled a “small person” for it.
Joe Coscarelli at The Village Voice:
For Tony Hayward, after dealing with the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history every day for 60 days, it’s vacation time. He’s currently attending a yacht race around England’s Isle of Wight, where his 52-foot boat named “Bob” is participating. “He’s spending a few hours with his family at a weekend. I’m sure that everyone would understand that,” said a BP spokesperson, insisting it was Hayward’s first break since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig April 20. Sixty days and nights! As for the race, Hayward is “well known to have a keen interest in it.” Straws, camels, backs, etc. Tony, get used to vacation. Though it seemed like Hayward’s time running (ruining?) operations in the Gulf of Mexico was over, today it’s merely a brief reprieve, according to the New York Times:
BP officials scrambled on Saturday to say that Tony Hayward, their embattled chief executive, was still in charge of all BP operations in spite of comments from the company’s chairman the day before indicating that Mr. Hayward was relinquishing his duties in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Shit Sandwich, called it “part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes.” At this point, the only question remaining is how many hours until the official Hayward-getting-yanked announcement comes through. Or if someone’s going sink his boat. “To quote Tony Hayward, he’s got his life back,” Emanuel continued.
If Hayward is around when I am next Saturday, I’ll eat my shoe and put it on YouTube.
Jeff Neumann at Gawker
Hugh Collins at Politics Daily:
The race’s website describes it as a “great opportunity to watch world-renowned sailors racing against families and first time racers.” Every boat receives a memento to mark the race and there are over 60 prizes up for grabs, according to the website.
Hayward’s boat finished fourth in its class, Fox News reported.
“This will be seen as yet another public relations disaster for him from people who have got exceedingly upset about this whole thing,” Hugh Walding of the environmental organization, Friends of the Earth, said, according to The Daily Mail. “He should at least be managing the image of the company better.”
Yesterday, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said that Hayward would be taking a back seat in the Gulf clean-up operation. Svanberg acknowledged that some of Hayward’s comments in the aftermath of the disaster had harmed the company.
“It is clear Tony has made remarks that have upset people,” Svanberg told Sky News.
Hayward’s blunders include downplaying the size of the spill by saying, “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean” and commenting that growing health problems among clean-up workers may be related to food poisoning, rather than their exposure to crude oil and dispersants.