National brief

FEMA criticized for fake news conference

Michael Chertoff, secretary of Homeland Security, scolded his employees at the Federal Emergency Management Agency Saturday for holding a news conference last week in which FEMA staffers acted as reporters.

"I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government," Chertoff told MSNBC at a real press conference.

FEMA had alerted reporters to the press conference on the California wildfires only 15 minutes before holding it, MSNBC reported.

A toll-free telephone line was provided for reporters to listen in, but it didn't allow them to ask questions, The New York Times reported. Only television crews and FEMA staff members were present at the conference.

Staff members at the event asked easy questions, according to The Times.

"I'm very happy with FEMA's response so far," Deputy Director Harvey E. Johnson said in response to a staff member's question, according to The Times.


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