Saturday, October 27, 2007

Too Good to Be True

The Bush Administration has long been defined by its remark that "we create our own reality." Getting bad press? Just make up your own press. The Republicans tried this a couple of years ago with "Jeff Gannon," a fake reporter who asked softball questions at presidential press conferences. Now, they've gone one better.

FEMA, perhaps concerned about the bad press it got for the incompetence it displayed during Hurrican Katrina, decided to make sure it got some good press for its handling of the California wildfires. How to ensure this? Simple: stage a fake press conference in which FEMA's own employees pretend to be reporters asking questions.

The fraud was so blatant, the chutzpah so unbridled, that even the Bush administration has backed away this outrageous stunt. DHS spokesman Russ Knocke called it "totally unacceptable," although White House press secretary Dana Perino contented herself with calling it an "error in judgment."

FEMA has announced that it is "reviewing [its] press procedures." Reviewing the press procedures? Did the procedures previously say "Have agency employees pose as reporters"? Yes, that one will have to be changed. And if the procedures still include "Secretly pay syndicated columnists money to promote government policies" or "Give press credentials to political operatives posing as reporters," perhaps those could be changed too. Sheesh.

1 comment:

Jeff Gannon said...

Old Media Ablaze Over Staged FEMA Presser

Liberal activists and the Old Media are aghast and outraged over a press conference conducted last Tuesday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Reporters were only able to listen to a department spokesman respond to questions about relief efforts for the California wildfires posed by other members of the FEMA staff. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff appropriately chastised the sham press conference and promised an investigation and disciplinary action and the White House expressed its displeasure with the incident.

Surely no one at FEMA believed that the staged event would not immediately be discovered and criticized. What could the motivation have been for such a stunt? Perhaps FEMA wanted an opportunity to present its version of events before the Old Media created its own reality about the fires and the actions of the agency. News consumers had already listened to reporters making comparisons to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina and attempting to find fault with the handling of relief efforts. California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had to take ABC’s Claire Shipman by the hand to convince her that everything possible was being done and that she should stop trying to invent mistakes and shortcomings. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and other environuts demagogued the tragedy as evidence of the effect of global warming, while California Democrats like Sen. Barbara Boxer and Lt. Governor John Garamendi incorrectly claimed that relief efforts were impeded by having troops and equipment in Iraq.

One of the lessons learned in the wake of Katrina is how the unaccountable Old Media are able to create a false impression that their ideological soul mates in the Democratic Party use for political advantage. In my book, “The Great Media War: A Battlefield Report”, I detail the flawed coverage of one of the greatest natural disasters in American history – a record that has yet to be corrected.

When I learned of the fake news conference, I expected that the characterization of Jeff Gannon as a “phony reporter” would be revived. Liberal media activist Keith Olbermann noted it on his nightly train wreck of a talk show and the lefties of the blogosphere dutifully repeated it ad nauseum. This is a classic case of how a lie becomes reality, since the record proves otherwise. I was as real as a reporter gets, writing over 500 articles as a White House correspondent, a job that Secret Service records indicate I actually showed up for more than 200 times over the course of two years. The veracity of my work as a reporter has never been successfully challenged.

Further, in 2006 – a year after my supposed exposure as a “phony reporter” - my peers accepted me into the National Press Club, the most prestigious association of professional journalists in the world. My book about the media will be featured at the National Press Club’s 30th annual book fair on November 1. Not bad for a “fake, fraud and phony.”