The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s No. 2 official apologized Friday for leading a staged news conference Tuesday in which FEMA employees posed as reporters while real reporters listened on a telephone conference line and were barred from asking questions. … FEMA announced the news conference at its headquarters here about 15 minutes before it was to begin Tuesday afternoon, making it unlikely that reporters could attend. Instead, FEMA set up a telephone conference line so reporters could listen.
In the briefing, parts of which were televised live by cable news channels, Johnson stood behind a lectern, called on questioners who did not disclose that they were FEMA employees, and gave replies emphasizing that his agency’s response to this week’s California wildfires was far better than its response to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
“It was absolutely a bad decision. I regret it happened. Certainly … I should have stopped it,” said John “Pat” Philbin, FEMA’s director of external affairs. “I hope readers understand we’re working very hard to establish credibility and integrity, and I would hope this does not undermine it.”
Thank you, John-Pat. Now go and write out a hundred times: “I will remember that legitimacy is the bedrock of effective public diplomacy”.