FEMA faked a press briefing

Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 5:11 | Posted in Journalism, Media, Press freedom, USA | Leave a comment
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The US Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA desperately needed a PR face lift after their bad handling of Katrina and in view of difficulties faced with the California wildfires. As the Washington Post reports, FEMA decided to organize a televised press conference but just to make sure that no media representatives would show up and spoil their party, they made sure to announce the conference with a 15 minutes notice.

The questions to the deputy administrator Harvey E Johnson were put by FEMA employees faking to be reporters. No need to say that the questions were characterized as soft, without any critical points whatsoever. You can see an extract of the briefing, as broadcast live by FOX at the FOX web site.

As the BBC reports, after being exposed by the Washington Post, FEMA has apologized for their media stunt. The Homeland Security Department were apparently also less than amused:

A spokeswoman for Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called the incident “inexcusable and offensive”.

“We have made it clear that stunts such as this will not be tolerated or repeated,” Laura Keehner said, adding that the department was considering whether or not to reprimand those responsible.

I would not even have expected something like this from Göbbels. Did these guys actually think they would get away with it? How low can an administration sink!

Edit: Here is some C-SPAN footage (via Dandelion Salad) with White House press secretary Dana Perano answering questions (apparently by real reporters) about the incident:

Edit: Also via Dandelion Salad, this footage of E.J. Dionne from the Washington Post discussing the scandal in MSNBC.

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