FEMA faked a press conference.
The thing is? The questions the fake reporters asked were pretty much normal for any news conference that would have been asked by real reporters.
Kinda like the questions asked after sporting events where the home team hires the announcers. Or ESPN where they are all buddy-buddy with the jocks.
FEMA reporter wannabe: “Are you happy with FEMA’s response so far?”
ESPN/NASCAR reporter: “Are you happy with your performance?”
FEMA reporter wannabe: what about “lessons learned from Katrina.”
ESPN/NASCAR reporter: what did you learn from your teammates?
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.
The fake reporters certainly would have been dressed better than the real reporters. That’s an improvement. The fake reporters made their questions shorter than the real reporters who like to get face time for their network or local station. That left more time for answers. That’s a good thing. The fake reporters didn’t have to do “I’m live from blah-blah” and then tell us what the FEMA spokesperson just said. That’s better.
I dunno, all-in-all, I think I like the fake press conference better than the real one when it comes to these “update press conferences.”
Remember, this was about a fire. One that had been covered immensely by every news network. California TV stations were certainly round the clock with coverage.
So what was the press conference for? To show off and kiss the ass of the local politicians.
So Chertoff was wrong.
How bad — and d-u-m-b — was the fake press conference? So bad that Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff was sounding almost like a blogger:
Seldom does anyone in government come as clean as Michael Chertoff, secretary of Homeland Security, has come with his disdain for his own agency’s stunt.
I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I’ve seen since I’ve been in government,” Chertoff said yesterday.
That press conference using pretend reporters was a coup that worked and should be repeated anytime there is a news conference that doesn’t have news.
The outside-the-box thinker who came up with the non-press news conference wasn’t appreciated. Go figure, a guy in gummit comes up with a new idea and he isn’t appreciated.
Pat Philbin, FEMA’s external affairs director, was scheduled to become director of public affairs for National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell on Monday. It was not immediately clear whether he offered his resignation or was fired just as he was set to begin the job.
He can get a job with ESPN or NASCAR, I’ll bet. Oh wait, I forgot, you’re probably still working at FEMA. Never mind.
UPDATE: Now ya see? They just don’t appreciate initiative in the gummit. The dude lost his job.