fema, building on a long tradition of strong bush administration public relations efforts such as colin powell’s un security council presentation and the fine news reporting provided by embedded reporters in Iraq, had demonstrated new skills in government puffery:
The U.S. government’s main disaster-response agency apologized on Friday for having its employees pose as reporters in a hastily called news conference on California’s wildfires that no news organizations attended.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, still struggling to restore its image after the bungled handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, issued the apology after The Washington Post published details of the Tuesday briefing.
No actual reporter attended the news conference in person, agency spokesman Aaron Walker said.
The agency had called the briefing with about 15 minutes notice as federal officials headed for southern California to oversee and assist in firefighting and rescue efforts. Reporters were also given a telephone number to listen in on but could not ask questions.
But with no reporters on hand and an agency video camera providing a feed carried live by some television networks, FEMA press employees posed the questions for Johnson that included: “Are you happy with FEMA’s response so far?” (Ed: emphasis added)
A made up presss conference to provide made up answers to made up questions. Can it get any better?
Perhaps, but not for the citizenry. fema’s director of external affairs could have stopped the conference:
“It was absolutely a bad decision. I regret it happened. Certainly . . . I should have stopped it,” said John P. “Pat” Philbin, FEMA’s director of external affairs. “I hope readers understand we’re working very hard to establish credibility and integrity, and I would hope this does not undermine it.”(Ed: emphasis added)
Lucky for us philbin is leaving fema:
Philbin’s last scheduled day at FEMA was Thursday. He has been named as the new head of public affairs at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, ODNI spokeswoman Vanee Vines said.
No, this is not from The Onion.
We are so looking forward to future information programs from the odni!