Holy shit! Via Atrios, I see that FEMA is now staging fake press conferences with FEMA employees pretending to be reporters. This is simply disgusting. I can't believe this could happen in America. It's bad enough when reporters regurgitate the lines the Bushies feed them, but when the only people allowed to ask questions are government employees, we're only a few more steps from having the government directly write the news articles. And why not? That's what the Republicans think the role of the media is anyway. And unless the media starts to make a bigger fuss about this stuff, that's all it's going to be.
And the excuse for why they did this is entirely absurd. They insist that they were getting calls from the media all day long, but announced a press conference with only fifteen-minutes notice...and actually expected reporters to be there?? That's absurd. This could make sense if this was an issue that reporters weren't interested in. In fact, I've always wondered what you'd do if you held a press conference that nobody in the press bothered attending. But that clearly isn't the case. The media clearly wanted to be there for this and there is absolutely no reason why an emergency press conference needed to be called in the first place. This story has been on-going for a few days now and there is no reason why this press conference couldn't be delayed by an hour.
And their 15 minute deadline gives the whole game away. If FEMA actually expected the media to be there, how was it that the FEMA staffers already had questions ready? Tough questions like "Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?" That's the kind of question you ask a football coach after a big game, and even the coach is likely to insist that he's happy, even if he had just finished chewing out the team moments earlier. And with FEMA, the question is even more absurd, as he's basically being asked to evaluate his own performance. Needless to say, he thinks it was great. But don't worry, we are assured that the FEMA administrator didn't know the questions beforehand; despite the fact that reporters had supposedly been asking these questions all morning.
And again, the fraudulent nature of this is exposed when they staged stuff like having the FEMA press secretary announce that the end of the press conference was coming. As if the fake reporters didn't already know that. But of course they did. That was all just part of the phoniness; giving realism to a bogus event. And according to the article, this press conferencc was televised; meaning that far more people are likely to have seen it than will read the WaPo columnist exposing the fraud.
I'm honestly sickened by this. This is horrible. Had they come right out at the beginning and apologized for the short notice, and let people know that no reporters were present, I could accept that. It would be the equivalent of a press release; and they could have done away with the fake questions and just had the man speak. But the fact that they staged a fake press conference with fake reporters giving softball questions...that is simply unacceptable. I really hope some people get nailed to the wall for this. But I doubt they will. Sure, reporters probably would have liked to have asked real questions. But honestly, any tough questions wouldn't have been answered anyway, and it was easier for reporters to not have to go all the way to the FEMA building.
So as with everything else, they're likely to let this slide. Had this been done by the Clinton Administration, the media would have a great time beating him up for it. But these are Republicans and reporters all know that Republicans are con-artists; that's why they love them so much. So this is probably going to be allowed to slide. This one fake press conference was a blow to democracy, and if they get away with this, they're likely to repeat it in the future. Hell, I'm sure Bush would love to have a roomful of his employees asking him questions, and we already know all about "Jeff Gannon," who strongly believed it was the media's duty to regurgitate the government's lines.
But again, why not? Bush doesn't answer real questions anyway and the media almost never mentions the fact, so why not just allow him to avoid real questions in the first place? What's the point? This is all just a game for the media and they have no problem when the Bushies play them for suckers. Even the WaPo columnist writing about this makes it sound more like a joke, with the phoniness of the event being saved for the end punchline. He's not outraged; simply amused.
For the Government, by the Government
And this just isn't how a democracy can work. In any government, the leaders need to have good information to know how to make good decisions, and in a democracy, the leaders are the People. And while we don't have time to go to the FEMA building to ask questions directly, we pay people to do that for us, and those people are reporters. Now the Republicans continue to try to abolish that system, and the media still doesn't understand why that's a problem; and are simply allowing the government to in-source their jobs by making journalism a government function (probably the only case that conservatives oppose privatization, I imagine).
And hell, at this point, wouldn't it be better if we just got the charade out of the way and outright admitted that the media works for the government? If reporters are content with allowing their names to be used on stories they didn't really write, shouldn't we just cut-out the middleman and remove their names all together? At least then people would know that they're being lied to by the government, rather than imagining that some third-party observer has verified the information being given.
But no. The Bushies insist on spoon-feeding propaganda to the media, and the media is perfectly content with eating it. We have met the Soviets, and they is us.