The agency gave reporters 15 minutes’ notice before the press briefing, making it almost impossible for most reporters to get FEMA’s DC offices (which are nowhere near downtown or Capitol Hill). But the agency didn’t want to hold a press conference on national television without questions, so FEMA employees stood in and gave Johnson the chance to “wax on and on about FEMA’s greatness.”
Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters. We’re told the questions were asked by Cindy Taylor, FEMA’s deputy director of external affairs, and by “Mike” Widomski, the deputy director of public affairs. Director of External Affairs John “Pat” Philbin asked a question, and another came, we understand, from someone who sounds like press aide Ali Kirin.
Asked about this, Widomski said: “We had been getting mobbed with phone calls from reporters, and this was thrown together at the last minute.”
The administration pays pundits to toe the Bush line, and it sends out fake-news segments for local TV stations to air, so I suppose it stands to reason that it would host press conferences with administration employees pretending to be reporters.