As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Plane Gate

I think the consensus coming out of this ridiculous Nancy Pelosi plane story is that she was unfairly smeared. What's troubling is how readily the media swallowed the hook, again, showing that the default position is still to buy the horseshit from the right.

I mean, Avedon Carol is absolutely right: Howard Kurtz writes a story about the controversy highlighting blogs that just started, perhaps specifically for the purpose of flogging the Pelosi story. How did he find them? Who brought them to his attention? He'll never say (and he's on Meet the Press this week, but don't expect to hear that discussion).

The rest of Kurtz' story is also a disaster:

Nancy Pelosi asked for a bigger (and far more expensive) plane because the one she was using couldn't make it to the West Coast without a refueling stop. Hastert didn't have that problem getting to Illinois.
Pelosi may be right on the substance, but the symbolism is awful. She insists she didn't ask for the plane, but if a military flight is needed, she wants a nonstop to San Francisco. The average voter will be left with an image of her flying around on a jumbo jet in the lap of luxury....

Pelosi has gone on the offensive, saying that Pentagon officials leaked the dispute for partisan reasons and that the negotiating was done not by her but by the House sergeant-at-arms. The flap made the network newscasts last night, although Tony Snow pointedly declined to pile on, calling the story "silly." wasn't just Pelosi who said that the "negotiating" was done by the House sergeant-at arms. The sergeant-at-arms himself attested to this! He did so in a statement yesterday -- and he did more than just say he was "negotiating"; he said he had requested the plane. I know Kurtz was in column mode here, but isn't this kind of critical information? Particularly in a column looking at media coverage of this tale? And if Kurtz is going to say that Pelosi "insists she didn't ask for a plane," how can he simultaneously state as fact that "Pelosi asked for a bigger (and far more expensive) plane"? Proof, please.

Here's the real question: Given the fact that Pelosi has been getting pummeled for days on this non-story, how could any self-respecting reporter or editor see the sergeant-at-arms' statement and not either make it the lede or feature it very prominently in his or her story? Wouldn't basic fairness dictate that?

Even Republicans acknowledge how stupid this story is. "“Next week, we are going to steal their mascot and short-sheet their beds,” said Jeff Flake (R-AZ). So some Republicans are AHEAD of the media on this one. But of course, the leadership of the GOP brought this one up. And Jack Murtha's going to let them have it:

Meanwhile, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said on Thursday that he's planning hearings this spring on executive and congressional travel on military aircraft.

Murtha said he's requested from the Defense Department records on travel and logistics from the past two years. He asked the Defense Department to hand those over within a month.

Somehow I think this might turn out embarrassing for the Republic Party (h/t Rep. Weiner).

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