“FEMA Builds Potemkin Village For Wildfire Victims”

Potemkin villages were, purportedly [who purports?], fake settlements erected at the direction of Russian minister Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1787. Conventional wisdom has it [whose?] that Potemkin, who led the Crimean military campaign, had hollow facades of villages constructed along the desolate banks of the Dnieper River in order to impress the monarch and her travel party with the value of her new conquests, thus enhancing his standing in the empress’s eyes. –Wikipedia

FEMA Meets the Press, Which Happens to Be . . . FEMA: Al Kamen of the Washington Post notes the latest use of fake news by the gringo federal executive.

Did they think we had forgotten about Jeff “I am a victim of the politics of personal destruction” Gannon (not his real name)?

Or Judy “you are only as good as your anonymous sources” Miller and the “aluminum tubes” story?

Or Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged?

On the nondisclosure of the fictional nature of this “news conference” as a grossly dishonest ethical lapse — there are those who will tell you it is an “innovation in social communications,” of course, but they tend to be Moonies (and professional Bloggers for Dean) — see also:

Deputy FEMA director Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson calls a press conference. Reports Kamen:

Reporters were given only 15 minutes’ notice of the briefing, making it unlikely many could show up at FEMA’s Southwest D.C. offices. They were given an 800 number to call in, though it was a “listen only” line, the notice said — no questions. Parts of the briefing were carried live on Fox News (see the Fox News video of the news conference carried on the Think Progress Web site), MSNBC and other outlets.

Carried live on Fox News.

Which has a track record of running advertorial and other forms of fake news.

Does this mean that Fox and MSNBC had a camera crew on the scene?

And managed to get set up in 15 minutes?

But something didn’t seem right. The reporters were lobbing too many softballs. 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.

The “reporters” were FEMA staffers “playing reporters.”

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.


Asked about this, Widomski said: “We had been getting mobbed with phone calls from reporters, and this was thrown together at the last minute.”

It was not fake news, it was a “docusoap,” seems to be the excuse.

But the staff did not make up the questions, he said, and Johnson did not know what was going to be asked. “We pulled questions from those we had been getting from reporters earlier in the day.” Despite the very short notice, “we were expecting the press to come,” he said, but they didn’t. So the staff played reporters for what on TV looked just like the real thing.

It may not have been genuine, but it had verisimilitude:

the appearance of truth; the quality of seeming to be true

As I always say, these kinds of practices have been common in democracy-challenged banana republics since the invention of the printing press. I make a point of reading up on that sort of thing.

Is that what the United States of America is now?

A democracy-challenged banana republic?

In Brazil, at least, when the government runs an announcement it produces, the station announces, “we now cut to the national network,” then the government comes on the on the air and says, “This is your government. We would just like you to know that …”

I am old enough to remember when our government used to do that.

“I shall not seek, nor shall I accept ..”

“I am not a crook.”

The most recent example was a nationwide message about combating dengue, a nasty mosquito-driven disease that tends to spike with the rainy season, and, while not pandemic, is serious enough that steps need to be taken to tamp the thing down.

Not a controversial message, not used as a grandstanding moment. Just “keep your house free of stagnant water, including flower vases and your utility sink. Thank you and good night.” Not even a “Che be with you.”

The sourcing on the Wikipedia article cited above is breezily uninformative and substandard as well, by the way.


All the people named should lose their jobs forthwith.

As should the Rear Admiral.

This is not rubble-strewn post-war Europe.

You are not General George C. Marshall.

And again: How did Fox and MSNBC get a camera crew set up to run the thing live with only 15 minutes’ lead time?

Were they notified in advance?

Or did they get set up?

What was the source of the picture that went out over the network(s)?

NET cable broadband here in São Paulo went down for the third time today during the composition of this post.

The second was during a very important business to the USSA using Skype.

It made me very, very angry, this outage.

This is the best thing on offer to the poor, Internet-starved citizens of Brazil’s biggest cosmopolis.

I feel like Fred Flinstone, using an Internet rigged up out of carrier pterodactyls and cynical talking tortoises.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s