May 12, 2006

Read Michael Brown's E-mails

Read Michael Brown's E-mails

Hi Mike,

I just wanted to tell you that, despite the unfair shrapnel that you are taking in the press on behalf of the federal government, I believe you & your team are doing an amazing job of handling this unprecedented natural disaster and maintaining your focus on doing what FEMA was set up to do, which is saving lives and responding to disasters! I can imagine it must feel a little lonely right now & I wanted to let you know that I appreciate all that you are doing for me & our country.

When all the dust settles, you are always invited for a steak & a beer with your friends from Oklahoma!

Hang in there,

[name redacted]

writer, name omitted, in an e-mail to Michael Brown, 9/7/2005
A note from one of the people who did not appreciate his  "heckuva job"

A note from one of the people who did not appreciate his “heckuva job”

The Center for Public Integrity has released the collected e-mails of former FEMA chief Michael Brown. The 928-page document was requested under the Freedom of Information Act, and it provides more insight into the tragic, and sometimes comic, government response to Hurricane Katrina.

Bloggers are all over it. “In the Midst of Disaster, One Man Never Lost Sight of His Blackberry,” writes Wonkette. Gutterboy and Shakespeare’s Sister point to an e-mail about the use of the term ‘refugee’:

Just so you know, this is old news. The term refugee is forbidden here. These are Americans who are hurricane victims, they are evacuees displaced from their homes. I am tired, no, angered, by charges of racism. You know that neither me nor anyone associated with me is a racist. Grrrr.

How was that Sonic burger?

Michael Brown, in an e-mail to his press secretary, Sharon Worthy, 9/7/2005

Two months ago, we wondered how a playwright would tell this story in The Redemption of Michael Brown. It seems that the most powerful rendition would be a deadpan reading of his correspondences.

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  • I suppose this goes to show that we (“the people”) can also play at the voyeuristic game– to some of the points on the NSA thread about our move towards a society of transparency.

    And this also intersects our new attention on Terms of Endearment— on this forum and others, your words will come back to haunt you. Worst of all are the personal touches which are quite helpful for everyday discourse, but out-of-context become off-putting.

    But I must take Wonkette to task as no one else does. The original Wonkette and her replacement guys have been “made” by the revolution in communication technology. Most people like them– the personal democracy crowd, convening in NYC tomorrow– tend to promote digital communications for everybody. Public officials are people, too.

    Would you believe that the Wonkette emerita, Ana Marie Cox, wrote an ode to the Blackberry for the Sunday Outlook of the Washington Post in March, and stuck around for a reader chat the next day? “Legend has it that the BlackBerry was first widely introduced into Washington’s media ecosystem in the wake of 9/11; in the midst of tragedy and confusion, BlackBerrys worked when conventional cell phones and e-mail often didn’t…”

    Gee, it sounds like it would have been worse if Brown were one of those stick-in-the-mud, I-have-other-people-email-for-me executives.

    As for the current Wonkers, the best they can come up, beyond reproducing the email with the subject titled “Resign” is this: “Feel free to take a look yourself, and send us anything particularly interesting.” That’s it? And nbody sent anything in. Worse then giving a headline which smacks of hypocrisy, the Wonksters have committed an even greater journalistic sin: laziness.

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