FEMA Fakes It: Learning From Past Mistakes

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had a disaster on it's hands in 2005, with all the reporters asking Michael Brown sweat-inducing quesions that he could not answer during Hurricane Katrina. Despite purchasing a new Nordstrom shirt for the occasion and rolling up his sleeves to simulate working, Michael Brown and FEMA became the butt of criticism and lampoon for their blundering mendacity.

During the hurricane clean-up, FEMA tried to prevent the news media from reporting on the New Orleans body recovery, but this tactic was prevented by a lawsuit brought by CNN. Therefore, when disastrous fires struck California this year, FEMA had prepared, figuring out another way around the pesky reporters.

The agency called a news conference about the California fires on Tuesday 15 minutes before the event, and also gave out an 800 number so that reporters could call in (but not ask questions). Then, reportedly because not enough reporters showed up, FEMA staff asked the questions and FEMA staff answered the questions. These questions were supposedly not premeditated: "What type of commodities are you pledging to California?" Detail questions like -- "What's the difference between an "emergency declaration as opposed to a major disaster declaration?" could have been plucked from the a FEMA bureaucrats entry examination.

The fake FEMA questioners asked: "Are you happy with FEMA's response, so far?" FEMA's answer? "I'm very happy with FEMA's response so far. This is a FEMA and a federal government that's leaning forward, not waiting to react."

FEMA, having learned from from the Hurricane Katrina debacle that news conferences demand intense disaster preparedness, are so "forward leaning" that they'd prefer not to even have reporters at their news conferences.


Acronym Required previously wrote about FEMA here, and during and after Hurricane Katrina, here and here and here, and here.

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