Briefing Costs FEMA Spokesman New Job
WASHINGTON (Oct. 29) -- The man who oversaw public affairs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency when it held a fake news conference last week will no longer be taking over as head of public relations for the director of national intelligence. Pat Philbin, FEMA's external affairs director, was scheduled to become director of public affairs for National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell on Monday. It was not immediately clear whether he offered his resignation or was fired just as he was set to begin the job.
As of Sunday, officials only said that they were aware of concerns. But Monday, the director of national intelligence office issued this statement: "We do not normally comment on personnel matters. However, we can confirm that Mr. Philbin is not, nor is he scheduled to be, the director of public affairs for the office of the director of national intelligence." FEMA Director David Paulison said Philbin sent him an e-mail in which he took full responsibility for last week's staging of the news conference. FEMA, part of the Department of Homeland Security, called a news conference Tuesday in Washington on the agency's handling of the California wildfires. The agency said no media representatives showed up because the conference was announced at the last minute. Instead, reporters called in on a phone line but couldn't ask questions The agency released a video of the conference with FEMA employees asking less than hard-hitting questions. Deputy Director Harvey Johnson, who was fielding questions, gave no indication at the time that staff members were asking the questions. He later apologized, calling the fake briefing an "error in judgment." "I am calling to apologize and say it will not happen again," Paulison said in a phone call to CNN. He said rules are changing to prevent any reoccurrence. Reporters will be given at least an hour's warning before a press conference and those calling in will be able to ask questions in the future, he said. Paulison said he is continuing to investigate. He said he understands that FEMA officials did not plan to ask questions and did so only when reporters failed to appear.
Disciplinary action is being taken against some FEMA employees, he said. Another official said that reprimands have been issued and more may be coming. Johnson "really didn't have an awareness" of what was taking place, according to Paulison.The FEMA director said Johnson wasn't familiar with everyone in the press office and did not recognize staffers asking questions. "He just feels sick about it," Paulison said. "He feels his credibility has been hurt." However, reporters noted that Johnson called on at least one person by name. FEMA generally received high marks for its response to the California wildfires after fierce criticism over its handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but Paulison said he was sure the conference flap has had a bad effect on morale. "The last two years of planning for a major disaster fell in place," Paulison said. "Things were working as they were supposed to ... and that just killed everything you tried to have happen." The head of homeland security also has blasted the fake news briefing and said those behind it showed "extraordinarily poor judgment." "I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've ever seen since I've been in government," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Saturday. The White House said it was unaware of the briefing beforehand. "It is not a practice that we would employ here at the White House," said press secretary Dana Perino. "We certainly don't condone it."
What did he think would happen, if caught?
A Macy's Parade??
That was very stupid, and careless.
And right on the eve of assuming a new position?
Hmmmmm, that sounds suspect.
Just a smidge.
I believe that winners never cheat, and cheaters never win...
having said that, I'm playing angel's advocate-
If he'd go to such lengths as putting on a fake news conference,
what kind of devilment has he done in order to assume his formerly new position as head of public relation, for the director of National Intelligence.
Ohhhhhh, if walls could talk. :)