No.Does anyone here think that an FAA publication that describes how to assess a remote landing area somehow makes it legal to buzz a neighborhood under the pretense of landing in someone’s backyard?
But landing an airplane off airport without an inspection pass ("dragging the field" was what it was called when I was learning to fly) to evaluate it for hazards would be even more irresponsible, which is why the FAA, in their own publication, encourages pilots to do just that. The issue here seems to be whether the FAA believes he actually intended to land, or whether the decision to not land due to the field conditions suddenly makes the inspection pass illegal.
As others have said, I suspect there's more to the story... and I suspect he didn't grovel enough for the investigator's ego. If he'd said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I was a bad boy and I'll never do it again," at the first informal conference, that would have been the end of it. But arguing that it was in fact legal and safe (as I believe it probably was) turned it into a battle that the FAA had to win.