[Guest post by DRJ]
I’m sure they teach students in Journalism 101 that it’s not good to use fake news or fake news reporters but apparently that’s a lesson some FEMA officials forgot:
“The White House scolded the Federal Emergency Management Agency today for staging a phony news conference about assistance to victims of wildfires in southern California. The agency — much maligned for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina over two years ago — arranged to have FEMA employees play the part of independent reporters Tuesday and ask questions of Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the agency’s deputy director.
The questions were predictably soft and gratuitous. “I’m very happy with FEMA’s response,” Johnson said in reply to one query from an agency employee.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said it was not appropriate that the questions were posed by agency staffers instead of reporters. FEMA was responsible for the “error in judgment,” she said, adding that the White House did not know about it beforehand and did not condone it.
“FEMA has issued an apology, saying that they had an error in judgment when they were attempting to get out a lot of information to reporters, who were asking for answers to a variety of questions in regard to the wildfires in California,” Perino said. “It’s not something I would have condoned. And they — I’m sure — will not do it again.”
DHS Secretary Chertoff was not amused, saying: “Stunts such as this will not be tolerated or repeated.”
If FEMA wanted to get specific information out in a user-friendly way, I can’t imagine why they didn’t just provide a written statement in a question-and-answer format. It’s not just government, it’s everywhere. What has happened to common sense?