FEMA Spokesman Denied Promotion After Fake News Conference

WASHINGTON (AP) -- He staged what amounted to a fake news conference, and now he's lost a chance at a real promotion.

Pat Philbin is the external affairs director at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Last week, he set up a question-and-answer session with FEMA officials about the California wildfires. But because it was set up with such short notice, no reporters were there -- they just listened in by phone. And it turned out that the questioners were all FEMA staff members posing as reporters. The Washington Post says Philbin himself was among the questioners.

So now, Philbin is losing his chance to be the top public information officer for National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell. He'd been scheduled to move into the new job.

Last week's staged event has been harshly criticized by both the White House and by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, whose department oversees FEMA.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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