The folks at FEMA must still be stinging from all the abuse they took over their handling of Hurricane Katrina as they seem desperate for a little positive press. So desperate, in fact, that they went through the trouble to hold a press conference about the California wildfires. Problem is they called it at the last minute and there weren’t any actual reporters around for them to talk to. So what’s a beleaguered government bureaucracy to do? They faked it themselves:
The agency — much maligned for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina over two years ago — arranged to have FEMA employees play the part of independent reporters Tuesday and ask questions of Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the agency’s deputy director.
The questions were predictably soft and gratuitous.
“I’m very happy with FEMA’s response,” Johnson said in reply to one query from an agency employee.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said it was not appropriate that the questions were posed by agency staffers instead of reporters. FEMA was responsible for the “error in judgment,” she said, adding that the White House did not know about it beforehand and did not condone it.
“FEMA has issued an apology, saying that they had an error in judgment when they were attempting to get out a lot of information to reporters, who were asking for answers to a variety of questions in regard to the wildfires in California,” Perino said. “It’s not something I would have condoned. And they — I’m sure — will not do it again.”
I’d probably be a lot more outraged about this if I wasn’t so busy laughing my ass off at it. I think it speaks volumes about how inept the people running FEMA actually are that someone(s) there thought they could pull a stunt like that and get away with it. It helps that I heard about this first on NPR’s All Things Considered which took a decidedly humorous tone with the story.