Human Events, a “national conservative weekly,” wants to set the record straight about former FEMA Director Michael Brown. So who did they choose to write their “exclusive” expose “Media Maelstrom Over Michael Brown“…? None other than Brownie’s longtime attorney and personal friend, Andy Lester.
In a section entitled “Distorting the Truth” Lester once again accuses me of lying:
The sharks smelled blood. It was time to dig up dirt. The blogosphere came to the rescue.
Suddenly, a swirl of stories appeared that Brown had been forced out of his last job. Who broke the story? Not the major media. It was a website, aptly named HorsesAss.org. The story was false. But the media picked it up, ran with it, and kept repeating it.
Hmm. Only problem is, the story was true. Invective aside, let’s take a look at what I wrote in that original post:
Yes, that’s right… the man responsible for directing federal relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, sharpened his emergency management skills as the “Judges and Stewards Commissioner” for the International Arabian Horses Association… a position from which he was forced to resign in the face of mounting litigation and financial disarray.
Both Brown and Lester apparently believe that my post played a significant role in his downfall, but they entirely miss the significance of what I wrote. Forget for a moment the question of whether Brown resigned under pressure in the face of mounting and costly litigation… although this was well documented in industry newsletters at the time, and corroborated by reporters following up on my post.
The story I broke — the story that turned Brown into the butt of jokes about Bush administration cronyism — was simply that Brown’s work experience immediately prior to joining FEMA was a decade serving as Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the IAHA… an indisputable fact. In the context of FEMA’s disastrous performance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Brown’s utter lack of emergency management experience became a big story.
Lester argues that his friend Brown was the victim of an unscrupulous blogger and an irresponsible press corps, a critique as familiar as it is disingenuous. Indeed, even the title of his expose includes a calculated lie, in the claim that it is an “exclusive.” In fact, most of the piece was lifted word for word from a guest column Lester wrote back in September, 2005 for the ironically named Accuracy in Media.
Whatever the extenuating circumstances of the federal government’s failed response to Katrina (and there is plenty of blame to go around) there remains little doubt that Brownie brought to FEMA a resume with absolutely no qualifications to recommend him for the job. Lester can offhandedly malign HA all he wants, but it doesn’t change the facts.