Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Let them eat press releases

If you need a metaphor for failure, this is as good as it gets...[This is] an insult to our humanity.
--neighbor who helped "bury" New Orleans resident Vera Smith
An article in the Salt Lake Tribune, about 1,000 firefighters who volunteered to help FEMA with post-Katrina disaster relief, provides a microcosm of everything that went wrong with the federal government's response. (Emphasis mine, all mine.)
Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers. Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.
Firefighters. People trained to risk their lives to save others. Handing out fliers while the living await rescue and the dead await dignity.
"They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet." The firefighter, who has encouraged his superiors back home not to send any more volunteers for now, declined to give his name because FEMA has warned them not to talk to reporters.
So even though these brave men and women are being used for PR purposes, they're forbidden to speak to the press. Like good little pawns, they should be seen and not heard. Just stand there and look heroic, guys, as you recite that 1-800 number to people who haven't had food or clean water for a week. If you're lucky, you may get a photo op with--oh, wait, there's more:
A team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.
You can't make this stuff up--and I should know, since I make stuff up for a living.

It's sad, really, that there are people so arrogant, they can't even be humbled by Nature. They still think they can create their own reality using spin and press conferences and the few remaining media lackeys whose blood hasn't curdled from the horror in New Orleans.

But sometimes, gentlemen, reality bites. Hard.



Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 9/06/2005 9:51 PM

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