The California wildfire press conference staged last month by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staffers, who asked questions of their boss as though they were reporters, has claimed a second job. FEMA press secretary Aaron Walker resigned, effective in early December. It is not clear whether Walker's resignation was voluntary. Meanwhile, fall guy #1, FEMA's former director of external affairs John "Pat" Philbin, has started fighting back. "People who know very little about what happened have drawn conclusions and now I'm battling to recover my reputation and what I believe to be a fairly stellar career," Philbin told PR Week. "People were working fast, on very little sleep, and they were just trying to get information out." Philbin shared with O'Dwyer's a letter he sent to the Washington Post, which states, "I was busy with meetings and unaware prior to the briefing that reporters had been given inadequate time to arrive and the phone line was listen-only. The staff tried to salvage the event. ... Mistakes were made. ... Because I was in charge, I take responsibility. ... However, neither I nor anyone else on the staff is guilty of any attempt to deceive."
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