we alledged the Administration has been doing this in the WH press room for years... absurd, we were told... fact is, it's a common practice by this group... FEMA, State Department, Justice... doesn't matter... the edict is clear: control the message... FEMA Meets the Press, Which Happens to Be . . . FEMA http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/25/AR2007102502488.html By Al Kamen Friday, October 26, 2007; Page A19 FEMA has truly learned the lessons of Katrina. Even its handling of the media has improved dramatically. For example, as the California wildfires raged Tuesday, Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy administrator, had a 1 p.m. news briefing. <snip> 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." 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.