The FEMA Faux Press Conference

As fires rage across southern California, FEMA has demonstrated that they're willing to step up to the plate and help everyone out. In fact, should reporters be unable to attend a press conference, FEMA is even willing to have its own staffers pose as reporters and lob softball questions at the FEMA deputy administrator.

The Washington Post reports that FEMA held a press conference on Thursday, but only gave the media 15 minutes advance notice. But from what was broadcast on TV, it looked like quite a few reporters had managed to show up:

Something didn't seem right. The reporters were lobbing too many softballs. No one asked about trailers with formaldehyde for those made homeless by the fires. And the media seemed to be giving Johnson all day to wax on and on about FEMA's greatness.
Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters. We're told the questions were asked by Cindy Taylor, FEMA's deputy director of external affairs, and by "Mike" Widomski, the deputy director of public affairs. Director of External Affairs John "Pat" Philbin asked a question, and another came, we understand, from someone who sounds like press aide Ali Kirin.
Asked about this, Widomski said: "We had been getting mobbed with phone calls from reporters, and this was thrown together at the last minute."
But the staff did not make up the questions, he said, and Johnson did not know what was going to be asked. "We pulled questions from those we had been getting from reporters earlier in the day." Despite the very short notice, "we were expecting the press to come," he said, but they didn't. So the staff played reporters for what on TV looked just like the real thing.


Posted on Fri Oct 26, 2007


I still haven't been able to quite catch my breath after hearing about this. And I thought, at this point, nothing this administration could do could surprise me anymore. Boy, am I an idiot!!

How many laws does the White House have to break in spirit and deed before impeachment processes begin?

How the hell in that office thought Wag The Dog was a documentary?

Weren't they paying attention when Sony had to pay BIG after airing those commercials of staffers posing as "real" audience members going gaga over the Sony movie they'd just seen?

I have a headache!

David B.
Posted by David B.  on  Fri Oct 26, 2007  at  07:11 PM
So what else is new? This sort of thing has been has been done for decades.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Fri Oct 26, 2007  at  07:44 PM
Oh, you silly liberals! FEMA wasn't trying to fool anyone. They were just eliminating the middle man and bringing the message of their government directly to the people, without the filter of the liberal media.

Hey, David B., remember "David Manning?"
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Oct 26, 2007  at  08:01 PM
Not trying to fool anyone? Doing a heck of a job there, Cranky
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat Oct 27, 2007  at  09:47 AM
What a mind blowing trip this administration is. Can it be any more dysfunctional?
Posted by dennis igou  on  Sat Oct 27, 2007  at  10:00 PM
I'm not sure the Reagan administration invented this kind of fake press conference, but they perfected it and made it famous. Since Ronnie couldn't answer real press questions with anything faintly resembling a grip on reality, they set up fake interviews where he read canned answers to pre-written questions from a teleprompter. The White House then distributed this to small-town TV stations along with the interviewer's part of the script. A local newsreader would read the questions on the air, cut to the Great Prevaricator's taped sound bites, and viola! It would look like the Old Dime Box Evening News got an exclusive interview with the President, at no cost to the station (except, of course, for a total trashing of any shred of journalistic ethics they may have still had by then).
Posted by Big Gary  on  Sun Oct 28, 2007  at  05:47 PM
Big Gary, that goes back to FDR, at least.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Sun Oct 28, 2007  at  06:44 PM
On that theme:
Posted by Moophl  on  Fri Nov 02, 2007  at  12:45 PM
Anyone going to comment about Hillary getting caught planting questions? Or is is Ok when she does it?
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Wed Nov 14, 2007  at  06:23 PM
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