Friday, October 26, 2007

Heckuva Job!

On Tuesday, FEMA held a "press briefing" to cover their response to the fires in California. Answered questions, made statements, that sort of thing. Just what we'd expect with a response to an emergency situation.

Except, it wasn't.

The "reporters" were actually FEMA staffers. Yup, fake reporters, and this distinction was not made clear at all. To all the video feeds, it was assumed that the questions really were from news organizations who had some responsbility to actually report, you know, the news.

FEMA had called the briefing with about 15 minutes notice as federal officials headed for Southern California to oversee firefighting and rescue efforts. Reporters were also given a phone number to listen in but could not ask questions.

But with no reporters attending and a FEMA video feed being carried live by some television networks, FEMA press employees posed questions for Johnson that included: "Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?"

In an administration that has already been under fire for manipulating the news media, PR masquerading as news, screening audiences, and requiring "free speech zones", even this was over the top.

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