Tuesday, October 30, 2007

FEMA's Back At It Again

As if folks didn't already have enough reasons to not trust the gubb'ment...

Pat Philbin, the now former director of external affairs for FEMA, told CBS News that he should have stopped the press conference on the California wildfires that the agency held last week without any media present.

The press conference was announced on short notice and featured questions for FEMA's deputy administrator, Vice Adm. Harvey Johnson. No genuine journalists attended, although they were given a conference call number they could use to listen in, but not ask questions. A half-dozen questions were asked at the event by FEMA staff members posing as reporters.

Philbin himself was heard off-camera asking Adm. Johnson, his boss, a question. He now says he feels terrible about what happened, adding that the FEMA press office was under considerable pressure to get information on the California fires out to the press and was working on little sleep.

"I can definitively tell you that there were no discussions or conversations about setting up a fake news conference," said Philbin.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has called for disciplinary action for the fake news event, but Philbin's departure from FEMA is not related to any disciplinary action within DHS.

Philbin was among the six questioners, according to The Washington Post. The questions included: "Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?"

"I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government," Chertoff said later.

FEMA later apologized for the phony news briefing and said it was reviewing its procedures for dealing with news organizations.
Yes folks, your tax dollars at work.

Seriously, what sort of morons stage a fake press conference? I mean, if you're talking about boxing, sure. But emergency preparedness? Not so much.

Between Jessica Lynch, the myth of Pat Tillman, and the phony Saddam statue being toppled, I thought this level of subterfuge was usually reserved for war-related mess. Apparently not.

Watching the coverage of the Cali wildfires last week, and contrasting it with the Katrina coverage a few years ago was pretty enlightening. The overall tone of last week's media coverage wasn't nearly as somber, and considering the outrageous emphasis on the homes of stars in Malibu being in danger (Newsflash: Suzanne Sommers can't get back into her gated mansion!!! The Britney Starbucks closed early!!!), some of the coverage was downright trivial in nature.

Of course, The Cali Fires and Katrina are hardly apples and apples. Katrina was a purely natural disaster, whereas a good portion of the Cali fires were in fact arsons. The death tolls (1,500 vs 5) weren't comparable, although the sheer masses of destroyed property certainly are. But I think the biggest contrast is the portrayal of the Cali fires as being a plight of the mostly rich, whereas we know how the refugees victims in the Gulf were presented. Evacuees at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego were treated to kosher foods, free massages, yoga sessions, and tai chi (whatever the hell that is). The poor refugees evacuees in the Superdome were lucky to get a bottle of water and a safe trip to the restroom. But I digress.

Perhaps most telling is the fact that while our President didn't bother touching ground in New Orleans for nearly a week after the hurricane hit (I guess he bought into those urban legends of mass looting and viligante shootings at police choppers too), he was right there in San Diego early last week photo-opping with The Governator. And of course The Governator (already angling for Senate in 2011) is pimping using this as his Guiliani Moment. This is the same man who just last week said marijuana is not a drug, so we know what he's smokin'. What a damn Hot GOP Mess!!!

Not that we should be surprised of course. This is, after all, just politricks as usual.

So, thanks to FEMA, President Bush, and erry'body in the gubb'ment for just proving once again that you can't be trusted. Period.

Hot Links:

FEMA Official Regrets Phony Press Briefing [CBS]

California wildfires give its governor a chance to shine [SJ Mercury News]

Schwarzenegger Says Marijuana Not a Drug [AP]

California evacuees unwind with yoga, Kosher food [Reuters]

blog comments powered by Disqus

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.