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October 27, 2007

FEMA Fakes Press Conference

The Federal Emergency Management Agency shines again. I hadn't heard about this until now. Apparently, Tuesday's FEMA press conference about the wildfires had no press at it. After FEMA's statement, questions were asked by FEMA staff posing as journalists.

FEMA's excuse:

FEMA announced the news conference with 15 minutes' notice and provided an 800 number for reporters, but it was not set up to take questions. When no reporters showed up, FEMA provided stand-ins to ask questions and a video feed. Several channels broadcast parts of the event live.

"FEMA's goal is to get information out as soon as possible, and in trying to do so we made an error in judgment," Johnson acknowledged in a statement. "Our intent was to provide useful information and be responsive to the many questions we have received. We are reviewing our press procedures and will make the changes necessary to ensure that all of our communications are straightforward and transparent."

Why did they have to use the question-and-answer format at all? If they knew that there was information to give out, why wait for planted questions?

Both the White House and DHS have expressed their displeasure at the charade. It's unlikely that FEMA (or any other agency) will do it again.

Overall, this wasn't a giant mistake. But we certainly don't want government agencies to get in the habit of faking press conferences. The White House and DHS condemnations are well made.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 08:48 PM

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