Why Is Fox Still Treating Disgraced Ex-FEMA Head Michael Brown As Credible?

Blog ››› ››› MIKE BURNS

This morning on Fox News' America's Newsroom, Bill Hemmer hosted former FEMA director Michael Brown to comment on FEMA's cash flow problems and Hurricane Irene. Brown criticized FEMA for its spending on certain disaster programs and said that the government will have to start making "hard decisions" on how much to allocate to the agency because the "country is broke." Brown also criticized government officials for "fail[ing] ... to deescalate" Hurricane Irene warnings once it became clear that the hurricane "was losing power and strength."

From the August 30 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

Why Fox thought it would be a good idea to get advice from Michael Brown is a mystery.

As the former FEMA director, Brown was a key figure in the failed response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was ultimately "forced to resign shortly after the storm as the extent of the agency's failings became clear." In a May 2006 report on the response to the disaster at all levels of government, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs found that Brown "was hostile to the federal government's agreed-upon response plan and therefore was unlikely to perform effectively in accordance with its principles." The report also found that Brown "failed to do the necessary planning and preparations" for a storm of Katrina's magnitude; that he was "insubordinate, unqualified, and counterproductive"; that he "willfully failed to report key information directly to DHS leadership, instead reporting straight to White House officials"; and that he "failed to follow through on his promise to Louisiana officials to arrange for speedy delivery of buses to evacuate New Orleans."

Brown's post-government career, especially on Fox News, hasn't been very impressive, either. During an appearance on the May 3, 2010 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Brown repeatedly suggested that the Obama administration purposely chose to let the BP oil spill "get really bad" so it would have an "excuse" to "shut down offshore drilling."

The day after Brown's appearance, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs rebuked Fox News for airing Brown's conspiracy theory without making an attempt to push back on it. Fox responded by repeatedly insisting that Gibbs was wrong without reporting what Brown had said.

The next day, however, Fox personalities actually laid into Brown for his remark. During an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said he "would have slapped" Brown "if he were on the Factor" when he pushed his conspiracy theory. And that evening on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News "political analyst" Dick Morris called Brown's theory "nonsense."

Despite Brown's history, Fox News has continued to treat the disgraced ex-administrator as a creditable guest. And there's no indication that Fox is likely to change its mind. At the conclusion of the segment, Hemmer said to Brown: "On the next disaster, unfortunately, we're going to call back on you, OK? And we'll see where we are with the budget constraints, and FEMA, and where we spend our dollars most appropriately."

Fox News Channel
Bill Hemmer, Michael Brown
America's Newsroom
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