At FEMA Your IQ Must Be Below This Line

fema fake conference CBS

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

The last time I was at Disney World, they had sticks of a certain height stuck in the ground with signs that said something like: "You must be this tall to ride this ride."

FEMA, the disaster relief agency, must use a variation of that to hire its public relations staff.

Somewhere on their employment application form there must be a clause that says "Your IQ must be below a certain level to work here."

How else to explain FEMA's action last week when it staged a phony news conference where its employees posed as reporters and threw softball questions to agency leaders so they could tell us what a good job they were doing at the California fires?

Mind you, this is the same FEMA once headed by Michael Brown - he of "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job" fame - that fell on its face during Katrina. While New Orleans drowned, Brownie's PR people busied themselves by E-mailing Brownie to roll up his sleeves before TV interviews so it would look like he was working hard.

Department of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff said he found the phony news conference offensive, and, since it is an emergency relief outfit, I have some emergency suggestions for him.

Fire these people and the people who hired them and then explain to the new people that the best way for a disaster relief agency to get good publicity is to do a good job helping disaster victims.

As part of a massive new PR campaign you might even consider taking the PR staff from behind their desks and sending them to deliver food and water to the fire victims.

Now that would make a great story.

E-mail Face the Nation.

By Bob Schieffer
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    Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation.

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