FEMA’s fake press conference backfires

Perhaps FEMA should stand for “Fake Every Morning & Afternoon.”

Officials of the embattled emergency management agency openly admit they screwed the pooch by holding a fake “news” conference, filling the room with staff members posing as reporters.

Both FEMA and the Bush Administration scrambled Friday to try and recover from trying to pass propaganda off as news: Another black eye for an error-prone administration.

But their excuses fell on deaf ears.

Reports Reuters:

The main U.S. disaster-response agency apologized on Friday for having its employees pose as reporters in a news briefing on California’s wildfires that no journalists attended.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, still struggling to restore its image after the bungled handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, issued the apology after The Washington Post published details of the Tuesday briefing.

“We can and must do better, and apologize for this error in judgment,” FEMA deputy administrator Harvey Johnson, who conducted the briefing, said in a statement. “Our intent was to provide useful information and be responsive to the many questions we have received.”

No actual reporter attended the hastily called news conference in person, although some camera crews arrived late to film incidental shots, officials said.

A spokeswoman for Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who has authority over FEMA, called the incident “inexcusable and offensive to the secretary.”

“We have made it clear that stunts such as this will not be tolerated or repeated,” spokeswoman Laura Keehner said. She said the department was considering reprimands.

The White House said: “It was just a bad way to handle it.” The Bush administration has faced criticism previously over accusations it masked public relations efforts as journalism.

Although both Certoff and the White House tried Friday to distance themselves from the debacle, sources within the Bush administration say both were aware of the fake press conference before it was held.


  1. Sandra Price

    Bones, it sll depends on how much government you want to protect you. I will never give up an ounce of freedoms for a pound of security.

    “W and Dick” believe Americans are stupid enough to swallow their B.S. I’ve lived my entire life on the San Andreas Fault and the first plan for survival is to have the people themselves be prepared for those first 3 days that SEAL explained. Private organizations like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are available but it takes 2 days to organize clothing, blood and food and one day to deliver it. Leaving this to the Federal Government would be way above their ability to prepare, act and move.

  2. Chad

    How about FAKE FEMA Inspectors that put you at risk for Identity theft. FEMA Inspector Generals Office knows about this but nothing has changed so far.
    The Proof of this was disclosed in a UI court hearing with Parsons Brinckerhoff stating that PB/Alltech FEMA Inspectors can hire anyone to do any or all of the FEMA Inspection work.
    So a PB/Alltech FEMA Inspector can now hire any criminal without a background check and have access to all of your private information. They will have access to the social insurance numbers of yourself, your spouse and your children along with their birthdates. Also all of your phone numbers, where you work ,your insurance information, a complete description of your home with photos of the exterior and interior.
    This has been and is now being taking place so if down the road you and your spouse and children have their Identity stolen look no further than the FEMA Application for disasters assistance.

    The proof of what I am saying is in the court documents on the http://www.femasbest.com web site under unemployment insurance and the National Security complaint.

    If you’re a reporter and want the whole story contact me.

  3. SEAL

    Bones asked me: Am I overthinking you as a “psyops?”

    Bones, I’m not sure I understand that question. Would you please elaborate?

  4. DejaVuAllOver

    Governments overtaken by rampant depravity, decadence, corruption, savagery, lies, propaganda and arrogance DO NOT relinquish power voluntarily, if at all. Take this any way you want. But remember, natural disasters as well as human disasters (like this government) give us plenty of warning. Or at least to those paying attention.

  5. Bones


    “Bones, I’m not sure I understand that question. Would you please elaborate?”

    You ARE/WERE a Navy Seal? And don’t understand, or can define, a “psyops?” (Fintan…you were easy) This one might be a tough nut to crack.


    Be back in a while. Duty calls….

  6. Bones

    “psyops” can also be defined as Internet operatives that are put in place to “post” whatever is neccessary to stay true to the “Physiological operations” of any administration at the time. It’s their job as “psyops” to get banter going. Some CIA, some FBI, etc folks. No brainer….

  7. Janet

    You couldn’t make this up…or could you?

    I think there’s a Bill Murray “Caddyshack” type movie in this….or maybe a new Chevy Chase sitcom pilot.

    It’s embarrassing, while at the same time very scary, that this country is being run by such a group of amateur bumbling and moronic idiots.

    I just hope that the Democratic organization is smart enough to be collecting all these tidbits for use in the general election campaign.

  8. Bill Jonke

    This is merely more of the same political claptrap we’ve been handed since before the turn of this century!

    Warning: Don’t expect anything different from this sorry administration at this late date!

    When are they going to construct the Potemkin Village “fake rebuild” of one of the ravaged areas so Bush can stand there and apologize until he’s blue in the face about his latest screwup? They did it in New Orleans, so why wouldn’t they do it now?

  9. neveringham

    We say were patriots when all we do is sit on our ass and bitch about how unjust things are. What kind of patriot sits around and does nothing? Ahh, yes…. We the people of the divided states of America. Yes it’s we the people who are so consumed by the suggestion of what is and is not patriotic, it seems like most of the people in this country have lost their way to the power of suggestibility. Refresh yourself with a little social psychology and wake up and realized we are all being played like pawns by our government.

    It baffles me, how we can be so disillusioned and brainwashed to the point of compliance. How easily we have been convinced to obey the masters of bullshit. As a society we have turned into puppets manipulated by string, mainstream media has become a collection of ventroliquist dolls and were all being controlled by the same force.

    30 years ago we the people were protesting and impeaching. Today, instead of actually doing something we just turn the tv to” stay tuned” and distracted. When did we start caring more about what Britney Spears is doing than the injustices being committed by the “leaders” and “representatives” of you and I and our country.

    Will the masses ever stand up and say NO MORE -> ? Instead of complaining about how bad things are, don’t you think we should take responsibility for allowing all of this shit to continue to happen. I hope this gets you and the people you know to get up off your asses and instead of replying to this, ranting and raving take that energy and write your congressmen. Let them know if they don’t do what they can, they will not receive your vote next election. Refresh yourself with a little social psychology so you too can wake up and realized we are all being played like pawns by our government. But you probably won’t do that will you? Instead you will continue to go on with your life pretending nothing is wrong until one day you wake up and realized things are not as they once were.

    Throughout history, change started with the actions of one person.

    Its too bad you write off the notion that that person could be you.

  10. adamrussell

    Another example of the culture of deceit that the republican party is and has been for at least the last 40 years.

  11. keith

    This stunt ranks right up there with “Mission Accomplished” for unbridled ignorance and arrogance.

    How could these fools have possibly believed they’d get away with it?

  12. yarply

    I liked the added touch,, of having a deaf signer on hand for the deaf reporters who were not there. I wonder how many times this has happened and we haven’t found out? Answer,,, all the time, because
    the mainstream media actually works for the people who controls the government.

    But Come on,, its no big deal. Just relate to this as you would to a person who is asking himself questions and then answering himself,,,,,,,,

  13. Sandra Price

    Even before Bush was elected, FEMA was not a work of art. I remember the mess our government was in prior to the millennium when everyone was worried about the computers breaking down with the new year coming up. Our Red Cross in our district of California put on a trial test to see if we could handle it if our Nuclear plant went wrong.

    Naturally every RC district has to report to headquarters in D.C. about all this kind of thing. We were called in to our county headquarters for the instructions in case we had to direct people away from the nuke plant and not let anyone into the area.

    As we were given our instructions we were told the drill would be under direction of FEMA. You could hear the groans all over the building. No one had an ounce of respect for this ridiculous group who simply spent money on their own organization that should have been spent protecting the people from disasters.

    Few of us had much confidence in the President Clinton as he didn’t seem to give a damn about anything except his own sex life.

    Our final instructions were that we were not to say a word to any FEMA member as they would be wearing green vests and we were, of course in our red jackets with the big white cross on the back and on the front pocket.

    I was in charge of a building where women and children were located (we had highschool kids playing the roles of the evacuated people) and I had 3 men assigned to my building who observed me as if I was going to gun down everyone in sight. I had one high school football player come running in saying he was in “labor” and I showed him a cot, made him comfortable and radioed for a medic. I got a gold star from FEMA for this exceptional action.

    I asked our head honcho at RC if we were going to be working under FEMA again and she ssid she didn’t know. I told her if we were, I was out!

    The American Red Cross has been an independent group without any affiliation with any State or Federal Government. I wrote to my Congressman to keep FEMA out of our organization or we would dissolve it.

    Bush was elected and somehow I felt he would be no better at leading America in any disaster and I was right. FEMA got a failed grade after Katrina and that proved my point.

    The greatest tragedy from the Bush Administration has been Homeland Security and of course FEMA runs a close second for stupidity

    We had done actual disasters and this was a game to check our reflexes and we took it very seriously. I wrote up my evaluation and suggested they keep FEMA out of our disasters as they looked like a bunch of drunks with bad hangovers.

  14. SEAL

    Every disaster that I have observed in my lifetime, whether here or abroad, had one constant factor. There are no “official” rescue personnel on site for at least three days. The survivors are on their own. In the US it usually takes five-six days before any real government help arrives on the scene and ten days before anything significant happens.

    My own personal experience with disaster in this country was when the eye of Hurricane Andrew went right over the top of my house in Homestead, Florida. I got to witness first hand what the government priorities were when disaster hits. That is “cover my ass.” No matter what, it was someone else’s fault or it did not happen or it was not as bad as people say.

    Bush the first was president at that time. There are two things about Andrew that have somehow been covered up. First is the magnitude of Andrew. They called it a cat-1 for many years and finally admitted to cat-2. But those of us who were there know that Andrew was the great-grandaddy of all hurricanes ever recorded. Several places including the Air Force base and my own house measured the winds of Andrew from 240 – 280 MPH and that is confirmed by anyone who visualized the damage.

    Second was the body count. The official tally was less than 50. I saw more bodies than that in the first two hours after it passed in my own neighborhood. Several other people in the area I talked to had the same experience. We saw refrigerated box cars stacked with bodies on the RR track that runs through the town. They filled them for days. And then one day they were gone.

    The press and Television people were there. There is no way they could not have known the true facts. How does our government cover something like that up? I have asked several people in the media business about it and all I got was blank stares and professed ignorance. Andrew should have been one of the greatest news events in our country’s history. But it was played down in every respect.

    The area was predominantely poor people. A mixture of black, white, and mexican. Communications in and out of the area were controlled by one bank of phones set up next to FEMA headquarters. FEMA payed everyone off with checks for much more than their losses and the insurance companies did not contest any claims. That way there were no complaints or lawsuits to make news. I was given $10,000 more than what I claimed in damages. Like everyone else, I took the money and ran, moving north out of the area. Us witnesses were gone.

    So, pardon me if I do not believe anything we are told about any of these disasters. But I wish someone could explain to me why our government thinks it has to cover up the truth about these things. What the hell is the point?

  15. CheckerboardStrangler

    “Wont be tolerated again”??
    Who ordered this stunt in the first place…oh I almost forgot, people put in place by the administration WE VOTED INTO OFFICE TWICE.

    Yeah I guess they DO think we are that stupid…after all, we voted them into office TWICE.

  16. Bones


    I believe is was a 4 to begin with. (Use to that stuff myself…Plainfield, Illinois 1990.)

    Am I overthinking you as a “psyops?”

    Anywho…Sandra Price…ease up.

    The greatest tragedy from the Bush Administration has been Homeland Security and of course FEMA runs a close second for stupidity”

    Yer waaaaaay off the mark on W’s and Dick’s stupidity.