Anna Schneider

True or False:An arm of the federal government staged a fake news conference last week, complete with staff members posing as reporters who slow-pitched friendly questions to their boss.No, friends, this is not a fictional scenario from the latest Orwellian knock-off -- if you guessed true, pat yourself on the back (or run for Canada)! According to the New York Times, the wonderful folks at FEMA held a faux news conference on Tuesday to respond to Wildfires raging across Southern California: The Federal Emergency Management Agency staged a fake news conference this week, with agency staff officials, pretending to be reporters, peppering [John P. "Pat" Philbin, who is now the FORMER director of FEMA's external affairs] with decidedly friendly questions about the response to the California fires, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged Friday….The questions from the staff were posed after FEMA gave reporters only 15 minutes notice for a news conference on Tuesday, meaning that other than television camera crews, no reporters showed up before questioning began. A toll-free telephone line was provided so reporters could listen in, but it was not set up to allow questions.As a result, staff members asked Mr. Johnson a series of friendly questions like, “Are you happy with FEMA’s response so far?” and, “What lessons learned from Katrina have been applied?”Mr. Johnson gave no indication that the questions came from his own staff.“I’m very happy with FEMA’s response so far,” Mr. Johnson said in response to one question, according to a transcript.I don't know what is more disgusting, that FEMA actually, really thought they would get away with this or that FEMA's botched handling of Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in hundreds of unnecessary deaths, didn't elicit the caliber and expediency of the government's response the the news conference fiasco, let alone the California Wildfires, in the days and weeks after Katrina. Greg Palast (who has graced the pages of ITT in the past) wrote a great post about the discrepancies between FEMA's response to the California Celebrity fires noting the stats that prove we are in the middle of class warfare in America So let me not forget to report the war’s body count:New Orleans flood deaths: 1,577. California celebrity fire deaths: 11 (at time of posting)"

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