Daily Editorial: Emergency mangling
Vail CO, Colorado
The Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to bumble. At least this time, nobody died.
The latest great moment in bureaucracy from the agency was an Oct. 20 news conference in Washington to discuss how the agency was handling the southern California wildfires (which, by the way, it seems to have dealt with much better than Hurricane Katrina). The problem was, no reporters were actually present at the conference, held on just 15 minutes’ notice, and reporters who participated in a conference call could only listen. That left agency employees to pose as reporters, lobbing easy-to-answer questions to a spokesman.
The good news is that Pat Philbin, the public relations “specialist” who staged the event, has lost his job because of this.
But how on earth does anyone expect to get away with anything like this any more?
It’s been 20 years since Sen. Gary Hart dared reporters to follow him around to find evidence of marital infidelity (which is exactly what happened) and Sen. Joe Biden got caught in a fib from college. Each incident torpedoed the senators’ presidential runs.
Those two decades have put more and more light ” and sometimes heat ” on public figures or agencies trying to buffalo the public.
The Internet has the biggest flamethrower right now. Bloggers punctured a CBS News report about George W. Bush’s National Guard service almost as it was broadcast, and some professional or self-styled journalist is “liveblogging” almost any event of substance these days.
None of the above should be news to anyone who pays even a little attention to current events, which makes Philbin’s faux press conference even more baffling.
As is often the case, the best advice comes from Mark Twain, who once wrote, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”
” Scott Miller for the Editorial Board
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