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November 09, 2007


I can only imagine the questions:

Q: Vice Admiral Johnson, are the fires under control?
VAJ: Of course they are, didn't you get the memo Nate?

Q: Vice Admiral Johnson, could you explain to me what President Bush did to help out?
VAJ: Certainly. Bushie personally piloted, for 25 of the last 24 hours, a C-130 that doused the flames. Naked.

Q: Vice Admiral Johnson, how did Vice President Cheney contribute?
VAJ: Mr. Cheney shot all the peppered all the suspected arsonists in the face. The survivors are on their way to, heh, well, just let me say "sunnier" climates.

Q: Vice Admiral Johnson, is it true that you have 26 inch pythons, much like Hulk Hogan?
VAJ: Well *shrugs*, I did back in my younger days, but now I have to admit their only 25 inches. Want to see them?

*attempts to tear shirt off but dislocates shoulder instead*

people would know that to pull a stunt like this would cost them their jobs whether or not anyone found out about it.

I'm sure they'll "be taken care of".

Spencer S. Hsu gave some more detail in today's story.

An internal investigation into a fake news conference staged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency during last month's California wildfires found that the agency's press secretary directed aides to pose as reporters, secretly coached them during the briefing and ended the event after a final, scripted question was asked, according to a senior FEMA official.
It confirmed that there were no reporters at all present, Hilzoy:
[...] Nor did the inquiry fully explain the event's rushed timing. FEMA announced the news conference at its Southwest Washington headquarters about 15 minutes before it was to begin at 1 p.m., making it unlikely that reporters could attend. None did, and real reporters listening on a telephone conference line were barred from asking questions.
The new acting director of "external affairs" (which seems to mean "the world outside FEMA," which I suspect may say something about the most common FEMA worldview) is holding the line, though:
[...] The review "found nothing that indicated malicious or preconceived intent to deceive the media or the public," said FEMA's acting director of external affairs, Russ Knocke, who conducted the inquiry.
The point I still think underemphasized is that the guy alleged to be most responsible -- and I don't know about that, but he was certainly fully culpable -- FEMA's director of external affairs at the time, John "Pat" Philbin, was already on his way to be director of public affairs for the the director of national intelligence (DNI). This should make everyone extra-specially comfortable with assurances from this administration about intelligence and surveillance issues, right?

Yes, for some of us, it's impossible to deal effectively with subtracting from zero, but, somehow, not everyone has reached that point with this administration. Yet.

What's amazing about this is the extent to which the White House has denounced the event and termed it reprehensible and unacceptable and so forth, when it's not any different from the Bush press strategy for the last 7 years.

Remember when they brought in firefighters from around the country to help with Katrina, and the very first group got assigned to go walk around with the President and do photo ops? It takes a lot of chutzpah for them to call FEMA out on this.

Thanks, Gary. Updated.

Don't reporters usually carry steno pads and pens, or is that just in the movies?

AFAICT, nobody in the picture except maybe the guy in the back has any way of actually writing down what the speaker says. That's a pretty broad clue, I would think, if any more were needed.

"AFAICT, nobody in the picture except maybe the guy in the back has any way of actually writing down what the speaker says."

I see five people possibly or definitely holding handheld devices when I blow up the picture somewhat.

The guy on the far left is the most doubtful, as whatever it is is edge-on, or not clearly distinguishable by me, and so might not be relevant. But he's also just as likely a possibility, although to be sure, he's not making notes at that moment.

But the guy at the other end of his row, three down, also looks to me like he probably has a handheld.

Then, on the far-right front, the guy with his back to us clearly has a device lying on the podium in front him, and the woman sitting in front him is clearly making notes on a hand-held device. The guy in the back with the bald spot may also be making notes. Or maybe he's just fascinated by his knee; hard to tell.

The other two in back have their bodies almost entirely concealed, so we can't tell.

But only two people, the two guys in the middle of the front row, clearly don't have note-taking capability, as it looks to me, at least.

Not that it changes the facts, of course.

"...the woman sitting in front him is clearly making notes on a hand-held device."

Or is playing a game, or reading notes or messages. Sorry, I shouldn't have implied that we knew what she was doing with her device (phone?).

From time to time I'm fascinated in a worried way by people who lie by habit and choice. Imagine if FEMA people had just said, "Here's a briefing on the situation as we understand it and our plans for going forward from here. There will be a conference with opportunities for the press to ask questions later; for right now we're just going to cover the information we have and then get back to work." Would anyone have thought this odd or dangerous in some way that would justify a cover-up? I can't see it. There was no reason at all to mount a deception except that they felt like it.

times 23.10.07 reporting bb pressconference doubleplusungood refs unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling.

Okay, Bill, I was in the process of scooping up some chili when I read that comment and ended up slopping it all over the end table. Good work. :)

But only two people, the two guys in the middle of the front row, clearly don't have note-taking capability, as it looks to me, at least.

Maybe, Gary, but they sure don't look like they're about to run to the phones, call the editor, and yell, "Stop the presses," either.

Of course good reporters don't need notepads but can memorize hourlong conversations, especially if they have not actually taken place. Also today taking of notes is unnecessary because they will receive the script and talking points off camera*. And be honest, there won't be any "news" in the press conference anyway, so the piece in the papers could be written without extra input apart from some names. I'd bet that most people here could have written a believable piece without attending.
[/mild snark]

*soldiers need rehearsals for things like that**, reporters don't
**cf. the "life chat" of Bush with selected soldiers in Iraq

What a bunch of dopes.

I'm trying to think of something more insightful to say about it, but I keep coming back to the above.

Thanks -

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