A new low for FEMA – installing claques in press conferences

It’s the big news, at a FEMA press briefing FEMA employees threw softball questions to give the appearance of answering questions from the press.

. No one asked about trailers with formaldehyde for those made homeless by the fires. And the media seemed to be giving Johnson all day to wax on and on about FEMA’s greatness.

Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters. We’re told the questions were asked by Cindy Taylor, FEMA’s deputy director of external affairs, and by “Mike” Widomski, the deputy director of public affairs. Director of External Affairs John “Pat” Philbin asked a question, and another came, we understand, from someone who sounds like press aide Ali Kirin.

Ok. This is how incompetent FEMA is. If you’re going to have fake reporters at a press conference do not use the deputy directors! You wouldn’t think you’d have to explain this to them but sheesh. What a bunch of morons. This is what interns are for.

P.S., I started with the title “a new low for this administration”, but then I realized I forgot about Jeff Gannon!


  1. Comstock

    Flaks as claques. Nice!

  2. natural cynic

    or a claque of hack flacks

  3. Maybe they figured strategy that lasts all the way until ST:TNG can’t be wrong?

    I always wondered why they needed the engineer and the navigator to beam down to the planet, putting at risk the most valuable members of the crew (though, admittedly those most qualified to make evaluative judgements, tradeoffs, and diplomacy).

  4. Joshua Zelinsky

    They actually did something fairly similar in 2005 during Katrina but not as extreme See http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/FEMA_accused_of_misusing_trained_disaster_workers_as_public-relations_workers

  5. Joshua Zelinsky

    Oh, and also, thanks for the observation about Gannon. I made about that in the Wikinews article on this new incident (shameless plug)

  6. It appears that the guy responsible for the FEMA dog-and-pony will be moving up to the Office of Director of National Intelligence.

    Surely those at DNI guys would never stage manage the press.

  7. 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.”

  8. So who were you servicing?

  9. I feel honored, the real Jeff Gannon showing up to defend the pathetic insult to democracy he offered by showing up to white house press conferences and throwing softballs to our idiot leaders for ideological reasons. Way to undermine the 4th estate asshole.

    You know, it was a sign that you weren’t a real reporter when the questions you asked were so obviously those of a plant that you ended up being the story. You’re the one re-writing history.

  10. And being welcomed into the arms of the White House Glee Club isn’t exactly helping your case either.

  11. Gannon posted the same little essay at my place (http://johnmckay.blogspot.com/2007/10/truthiness-at-fema.html). It looks, to me, like he’s going around pasting it into the comments anywhere that his name was linked to the FEMA fraud.

  12. The “real Jeff Gannon?” Isn’t that just a pseudonym for James Guckert when he’s playing reporter?

  13. Joshua Zelinsky

    I’ve seen Gannon add it in at least two other locations as well. It seems to almost be spamming. I particularly enjoy how he manages to get his plug in for his book. Notice how he completely avoids the entire issue about his lack of previous credentials and the speed at which he was given access or any of the other reasons people thought he was a plant.

  14. Gannon, face facts: you’re a nationwide laughing stock.

  15. Shirley Knott

    Gee, wish I could show up at my job ‘nearly 200 times in a 2 year period’ — and consider it a mark of acheivement.
    Gannon, you’re a mega-flop, hoist on your own petard.
    Emphasis on the tard.

    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott

  16. Boosterz

    Yeah that’s who I would turn to if I had a question about what is or is not journalism, a bitter 50 year old rent-a-butt…

    Just out of curiosity James(can I call you James?), but could your bitterness stem from the fact that you have completely failed at all of your life long ambitions? It seems you’ve wanted to be a journalist/writer for a while and you seemed to think that was what you were doing at the White House. Rest assured, lobbing softball questions at the Preznit and transcribing white house press briefings is NOT journalism. What went on at the white house was simply an exchange of services. In exchange for your “services” they allowed you to sit in the press room and pretend to be a real life journalist. You considered that to be your final shot at becoming a real writer, then the blogosphere went and outed your not so distant past on you. I can almost picture Atrios and John Aravos pulling a mask off of you Scooby Doo style and revealing that you are NOT Jeff Gannon but in fact James Dale Guckert “Vigorous top who leaves no marks, only impressions”. Yeah, I bet THAT left an impression all right. And you would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those darned kids…

    Look at it this way, you never WERE a real journalist so technically you haven’t lost anything. On the plus side, now you’ll never have to get near Rove’s moldy old groin ever again(well, unless the money starts getting tight).

  17. 500 articles on 200 press conferences? Do you count selling it to more than one at a time as multiple tricks?

  18. Twisted Mister

    If I’m not mistaken, “Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert/Whatever” is paying to publish his “book,” himself. You know you’re washed up as a right-wing suck up, when you can’t manage to find a wingnut publisher willing to sell your book.

  19. Jeff Gannon Book Selected for National Press Club Book Fair

    ‘The Great Media War: A Battlefield Report’ Featured At 30th Annual Event

    WASHINGTON, October 16 /Standard Newswire/ — A book by former White House correspondent Jeff Gannon, “The Great Media War: A Battlefield Report” will be among those featured at the 2007 National Press Club Book Fair. The National Press Club is the world’s most prestigious association of professional journalists. The November 1st event is the 30th annual book fair and benefits the Eric Friedheim Journalism Library at the National Press Club.

    Jeff Gannon, the first exclusively online reporter to cover the White House on a regular basis is considered a New Media pioneer. He notes that his daily readership of more than half a million topped the circulation of most newspapers, despite reporting for a small news outlet. Gannon points out that since his tenure at the White House nearly every news entity has launched an online presence.

    Gannon chronicles his two years as a member of the White House Press Corps and reveals his role in the Valerie Plame affair and the scandal that toppled Dan Rather from the CBS News anchor chair as well as the historic defeat of Sen. Tom Daschle in 2004. He also offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at the White House Press Corps, led by the legendary Helen Thomas.

    Gannon weighs in on the left versus right, liberal versus conservative debate that he dubs “The Great Media War”. He contends that the struggles between those opposing ideologies play themselves out on radio, television and in the newspapers every day and determine how news is reported. Gannon also sees the Internet as the next front in The Great Media War and discusses its effect on the future of journalism and news reporting.

    Gannon writes about his experiences after asking one of the most famous questions ever posed by a reporter to a president. He explains “The Question” and speculates as to the reasons the reaction to it caused a nationwide sensation.

    Gannon has something to say about nearly every member of the Beltway media establishment as well as many Washington politicians. His book is replete with evidence of pervasive liberal media bias well beyond the point of questioning whether or not it exists. Gannon proves the point with words directly taken from the lips of his colleagues.
    notiz=[disemvowelled for spamming advertisement of book by creepy fake reporter/male escort]

  20. “Taken from the lips of his colleagues.” Heh. Funny.

  21. From CNN, the FEMA PR guy who orchestrated this idiocy has lost his job. So much for your idiotic “they meant to get caught” nonsense Gannon. Some real sharp analysis there, where’d you learn such excellent journalistic analysis?

  22. The tags attached to the dipshite’s book over at Amazon include “as balanced as fox news”, “bird vomit”, “creative writing”, “fantasy”, “horrible”, “lying”, “right-wing rage”, and “throbbing gristle”. There’s a couple of highly suspicious reviews, including the above “Selected for National Press Club Book Fair” claim/comment from Gannon. None of the suspicious Amazon reviews are signed by Gannon or his known aliases.

    With perhaps one exception, those suspicious reviews are the only ones which give the book more than one star. The reviews which are more probably genuine are all one star, and say things like:

    I picked up this book expecting to find factual analysis of the political situation. Instead, all I found was name-calling, the blame game, and hate mongering.


    Thise [sic] self-published, self-glorifying book could not possibly be the truth, or even resemble same.


    The reviews of this book reveal a shocking lack of honesty, or of knowledge, on the part of the reviewers. [This is the first non-suspicious review, so I assume this reviewer is referring to the suspicious reviews.] Jeff Gannon, aka Guckert, was bounced from the White House Press Corps because his pornographic self advertisements as a male prostitute were discovered on line and his scant qualifications as an actual journalist were simultaneously exposed.

    I’ve no idea if the claims about Gannon’s (nee Guckert’s) lack of qualifications and/or p0rn activities are correct or not. The Wikipedia article broadly concurs with both claims.

    The book itself is published by iUniverse, which appears to be a vanity publisher. Some pages of the book are available for viewing at the iUniverse site, but unfortunately they are low-resolution and I cannot read any of the text.

  23. Holy poop I went to the Amazon page.
    It really is revealing to see what “people who bought this book also bought.”
    Jings If people bought anything I wrote and bundled it with any of those authors I’d top myself.

  24. George Cauldron

    Jeff, something I always wanted to know, after that scandal erupted with your hooker ads and your fake credentials exploded, did your per-hour trick fee go up or down?

    You know, no publicity is bad publicity, as they always say. Must have been good to have something to fall back on when ‘reporting’ went bust.

  25. Boosterz


    Now that he’s disemvoweled it looks like he’s trying to talk with his mouth full.

  26. A few highlights from the carear of “legitimate” jouranalist Jeff Gannon/James Guckert:

    His journalistic experience before assuming his position at the Bush White House was with a high school newspaper. Talk about starting at the top.

    His use of a false identity to gain entry to the Bush White House was because “James Guckert” was too hard to pronounce.

    He brags that Secret Service records show his 200 entries at the Bush White House under a false name, but fails to mention that those same records do not show him ever leaving the WH; or that he frequently was present on days when no press events were scheduled. What he was doing there during those times has never been accounted for.

    Investigations into how security failed to stop a person from gaining regular entry under false pretenses into the White House and remaining there for extended periods were quashed by James Sensenbrenner and other Republicans.

  27. David Marjanović

    Strange. I thought the records did show him leaving?

    Though… irregularly. Sometimes he entered twice in a row without leaving in between, sometimes he left twice in a row without entering in between.

    Sort of like in the math joke: “when four people are in a bus, and five come out, then one has to go back in so there’s nobody inside anymore”.

    BTW, , not née, as long as he’s male.

  28. Der Bruno Stroszek

    Holy shit, the latest review on that Amazon page for ‘Gannon”s book is a thing of beauty. It’s posted by “commie atheist” and it will make you cry with laughter.

  29. Not only a spammer, but a fake Amazon book reviewer, giving his own book at least one five-star review under the pseudonym “DC Patriot” (note the profile ID “jdg172”, cf. Gannon’s real name “James Dale Guckert”), an ID that has reviewed no other books, but has uploaded two images — posed photos of Gannon. The “review” itself consists of Gannon’s own publicity release, as he posted on this blog and elsewhere.

    That’s a violation of Amazon’s rules, isn’t it?

  30. Oddly enough, two other reviewers who gave Gannon’s book five stars have reviewed no other books at all; this was their sole action on Amazon.

    “Read Between Lines” claims to be from Falls Church VA.

    “AnImpressedliberal”, just like “DC Patriot”, claims to be from Washington DC. Interesting name, since it implies he would be impressed, as a liberal, by everything to which he posted a review. That, or his name was created just for this review.

    What can it all mean, I wonder.

    Surely Gannon would never try to pump up his Amazon rating using sockpuppets!

    Why, that would be wrong!

  31. Joshua Zelinsky

    Pyre, you should report that to Amazon. If a review is obviously false or otherwise problematic they’ll generally take it down.

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