In another shining example of the mainstream media exercising its newly-found investigative spine, the Associated Press reports on a memo from FEMA Director Michael Brown to Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff:
“The government’s disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security employees to the region — and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents.
“Brown’s memo told employees that among their duties, they would be expected to "convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public."
It’s impossible to say whether public relations was a higher priority for Brown than direct response, but the fact that PR was even on the table during the worst natural disaster in U.S. history is cause for Brown’s dismissal. The people of the Gulf Coast needed shelter, not spin.
The best PR comes from actions, not words. Providing food and water is a more “positive image” than dying babies and dead seniors still propped in their wheelchairs.
PR wasn’t going to save FEMA during the hurricane and it won’t save them now. The best PR move Brown can make at this point is to step down.