CBS’s Schieffer on FEMA: ‘Your IQ Must Be Below a Certain Level to Work Here’

In his "Final Word" on Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, host Bob Schieffer denounced a fake news conference held by FEMA officials in the wake of the California wildfires. Not content to just say the staged conference was a bad mistake, Schieffer decided to be as arrogant and condescending as possible:

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.' Well, FEMA, the disaster relief agency, must use a variation of that to hire its public relations staff. Somewhere on their employment application there must be a clause that says, `Your IQ must be below a certain level to work here.'

Schieffer went on to denounce the "softball questions" asked by FEMA employees who posed as reporters. It is interesting to note that Schieffer did not condemn ABC host George Stephanopoulos in similar fashion when the former Clinton advisor touted an email from the Clinton campaign during a discussion of the September 26 Democratic debate on "Good Morning America." It is also unlikely we will hear a word from Schieffer about MSNBC host and debate moderator, Chris Matthews, writing a campaign speech for Barack Obama one day prior to Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.

According to the Associated Press:

[FEMA Deputy Director, Harvey E.] Johnson said in a statement Friday that FEMA's goal was "to get information out as soon as possible and in trying to do so we made an error in judgment."Our intent was to provide useful information and be responsive to the many questions we have received," he said. "We can and must do better."

Rather than give any credit to FEMA for the successful response to the wildfires, despite the ill-conceived incident, Schieffer instead decided to focus on Hurricane Katrina:

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

Schieffer concluded his rant with some advice for FEMA: "Fire these people and the people who hired them, 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 victims." Well, FEMA did do a good job helping victims during this disaster, but the mainstream media has been determined to only look for what went wrong.

Here is the full transcript:

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.' Well, FEMA, the disaster relief agency, must use a variation of that to hire its public relations staff. Somewhere on their employment application 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 the agency leaders so they could tell us all what a good job they were doing. Mind you, this is the same FEMA once headed by Michael Brown of `Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job' fame, the agency that fell on its face during Katrina. While New Orleans drowned, remember, Brownie's PR people busied themselves by e-mailing old Brownie to roll up his sleeves before TV interviews so it would look like he was working hard. The Department of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff said he found the phony news conference offensive, and since it is an emergency relief outfit, here's some emergency suggestions: Fire these people and the people who hired them, 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 victims. As part of a massive new PR campaign, you might even consider taking the PR staff from behind their desks and sending them out to deliver food and water to fire victims. Now, that would make a great story. We'll see you next week right here on Face the Nation.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC