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Apparently FEMA has never gotten over the beating they took in the press over their incompetence during Hurricane Katrina, because here is how the agency handled a press briefing on the wildfires in California:

Johnson stood behind a lectern and began with an overview before saying he would take a few questions. The first questions were about the "commodities" being shipped to Southern California and how officials are dealing with people who refuse to evacuate. He responded eloquently.

He was apparently quite familiar with the reporters -- in one case, he appears to say "Mike" and points to a reporter -- and was asked an oddly in-house question about "what it means to have an emergency declaration as opposed to a major disaster declaration" signed by the president. He once again explained smoothly.  [...]

But something didn't seem right. The reporters were lobbing too many softballs. No one asked about trailers with formaldehyde for those made homeless by the fires. And the media seemed to be giving Johnson all day to wax on and on about FEMA's greatness.

Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters.

And according to FEMA's Deputy Director of Public Affairs, this was okay because the staffers were just asking questions that, "reporters had been asking all day."  Yes, apparently the press had been anxiously awaiting an answer to the burning question of the day:  Just how great is FEMA?

More discussion about this can be found in UncommonSense's diary.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Oct 26, 2007 at 08:36 AM PDT.

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