FEMA and a lesson in crisis communications. Not.

A tragi-comic Reuters story is yet another example of the indubitable idiocy and sheer ineptitude of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. government’s main disaster-response agency.

The U.S. government’s main disaster-response agency apologized on Friday for having its employees pose as reporters in a hastily called news conference on California’s wildfires that no news organizations attended.No actual reporter attended the news conference in person, agency spokesman Aaron Walker said.The agency had called the briefing with about 15 minutes notice as federal officials headed for southern California to oversee and assist in firefighting and rescue efforts. Reporters were also given a telephone number to listen in on but could not ask questions.But with no reporters on hand and an agency video camera providing a feed carried live by some television networks, FEMA press employees posed the questions for Johnson that included: “Are you happy with FEMA’s response so far?”According to Friday’s Post account, which Walker confirmed, Johnson replied that he was “very happy with FEMA’s response so far.”

In a way, a sobering article in light of all the heady optimism generated at the UN OCHA +5 Symposium that ended today.

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