FEMA Workers Masquerade As Reporters (Now that's a real surprise)
Since so called journalists, from so called legitimate "news" agencies have been doing such a bang up job "reporting" on what our government agencies are doing, it seems really, really, non sequiter for them to get their Nordstrom panties in a bunch over a little creative journalism from those very same agencies.
WASHINGTON (AP) — One way to get decent coverage in this rough-and-tumble city is to arrange to have your own employees interrogate you at your news conference.
That would seem to be the strategy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, much maligned for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina over two years ago.
FEMA scheduled an early afternoon news briefing on only 15 minutes notice to reporters here Tuesday to talk about its handling of assistance to victims of wildfires that were ravaging much of Southern California.
But because there was so little advance notice for the event held by Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy FEMA administrator, the agency made available an 800 number so reporters could call in. And many did, although it was a listen-only arrangement.
At the news conference itself, some FEMA employees played the role of reporter, asking questions of Johnson — queries described as soft and gratuitous.
"I'm very happy with FEMA's response," Johnson said in reply to one query from a person the Post said was an agency employee, not an independent journalist.
Asked about this, Mike Widomski, FEMA's deputy director of public affairs, said, "We had been getting mobbed with phone calls from reporters, and this was thrown together at the last minute."
Johnson issued a statement Friday saying that FEMA's goal was "to get information out as soon as possible, and in trying to do so we made an error in judgment."
"Our intent was to provide useful information and be responsive to the many questions we have received," he said. "We can and must do better."
The story was first reported in Friday's editions of The Washington Post.