FEMA is still trying to recover from its almost criminal negligence during the Katrina disaster. Eager to court good news on its California efforts, however, FEMA showed equally bad judgment in staging a news conference in which staffers posed questions like reporters without revealing the deception to the public. For the full story, click here It was a decision that should result in serious consequences for those involved. Clearly, Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the agency’s deputy director. knew that these were staffers posing as reporters as did his own press people.
Only recently, Congress investigated the deceptions surrounding the Tillman death and how the Administration knowingly lied to the American people to court good media. Likewise, the military has been criticized for staging soldiers for press conferences and interviews from Iraq. Now, a deputy director of a federal agency, cooperated in a sham press conference. It once again raises concerns over propaganda tendencies. Given the critical role of the media in disclosing not only abuses by the Administration but the failure of FEMA in the past, the substitution of reporters with staffers is a very serious matter.