Fox "News" sensationalism caught out.

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by diamond geezer, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. diamond geezer macrumors regular

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    [QUOTEEditor's Note: The following is the complete text of an April 22, 2002 letter from Phil Boyer, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, to Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News Channel.

    Dear Mr. Ailes:

    Little did I realize our paths would cross, even though I went off into a totally different field than television, where you and I met and worked for so long. Actually, I do recall you had substantial experience working with candidates as a political advisor, so we have almost swapped places. Sadly, however, this letter is to complain about a story that I and many of our 380,000 AOPA members think crossed the line beyond the fair and accurate reporting that I know you personally promote. The report surrounded the so-called "threat" of small general aviation aircraft to nuclear power plants.

    Reporter Douglas Kennedy misrepresented the facts and misled the audience. He claimed he rented a small airplane and made multiple passes over the Indian Point nuclear power plant, lingering in the area for twenty minutes. "No one warned the pilot of anything," Kennedy said. "No one at the plant, in fact, did or said a single thing in regards to the plane."

    That was false and Kennedy knew it.

    Your staff misrepresented the nature of the story to the flight school. They said they wanted to rent an airplane to photograph escape routes near the plant. Based on that representation, the pilot of the aircraft telephoned the manager on duty at the New York Terminal Area Radar Control facility and obtained permission for the flight.

    The aircraft departed Teterboro with an assigned, discrete transponder code, and under direction of air traffic control. It flew northbound past the plant at above 2,000 feet, continued north for about three miles, then flew west for several miles, then south until about four miles south of the plant, then turned back upriver and flew past the plant again. Once well past the plant, the pilot turned around and flew southbound past the plant for a third time. The video crew requested another pass, but the pilot declined because he had already told air traffic control that he had completed the photo run.

    The federal government knew who was onboard the aircraft and knew what the purpose of the flight was. The federal government maintained constant radar vigilance on the aircraft and remained in communication with the pilot.

    The flight school verified the identities of your crewmembers before the flight, including making copies of their photo IDs.

    Should anyone have been concerned about this aircraft passing the Indian Point power plant? Of course not. The flight had been cleared and was being tracked, the crew and passengers were known, the purpose of the flight approved.

    Kennedy's story also did not fairly represent the threat of a general aviation aircraft crashing into a nuclear facility. He cited a nuclear activist, with no identified engineering expertise, claiming that a small aircraft could damage a nuclear facility, and "damage to the spent fuel pool could lead to a massive release of radioactivity, which would then threaten the entire New York metropolitan area..."

    Yet independent nuclear engineers have confirmed for us that even an airliner could not penetrate the containment vessel house the nuclear reactor. Spent fuel rods are kept in steel-lined concrete "swimming pool" designed to withstand an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale. Some thirty feet of water covers the fuel rods. Even if an aircraft were able to penetrate the building covering the storage pool, it couldn't get to the fuel rods. When impacted at aircraft speeds, water is harder than concrete. Pieces of the aircraft might sink down to the fuel rods, but it's extraordinarily unlikely that the fuel would be disturbed.

    And Kennedy claimed that most nuclear plants "are near a major airport." He neglected to mention that all nuclear plants have been designed taking into account the plant's proximity to an airport; it's proximity to federal airways, and proximity to military aircraft training routes.

    In sum, your staff misrepresented themselves and the facts to obtain a sensationalistic story that unfairly alarmed a trusting public. Our members had expected better from Fox News, and, frankly, you and I know well these facts spell poor journalism.

    Sincerely,

    Phil Boyer

    Phil Boyer is president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.[/QUOTE]
     
  2. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Man, what a kick-ass letter! Very detailed. I wonder what the reaction was - probably nothing at all. Brings to mind things in "Fahrenheit 9/11" - the overstatement of terrorist threats to perpetuate the war on terrorism.
     
  3. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    As fate would have it, just this evening I heard Phil Boyer speak at an AOPA "town meeting" event. One of the topics he addressed in passing was the perception being foisted on us by the federal government, with the complicity of many in the media, that general aviation represents some sort of terrorist threat. We've been fighting this nuttiness ever since 9-11 with only limited success.

    Did you know that Laura Bush gets a gets a general aviation no-fly zone wherever she travels? It's not nearly as big as George's, but it goes wherever she goes. And we've just learned that in addition to the 30 mile radius temporary flight restriction the President gets for each and every one of his campaign stops, he'll also be getting a TRF along all the routes of his campaign bus trips. Will they be on the aviation charts? No. Are they even chartable? No. Will pilots even be informed in advance? Uh, no. Can a pilot have their license suspended if they bust one? You bet.

    I could go on, but you get the idea.
     
  4. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    I am sure that the letter was reported under the "fair and balanced" aspect of FOX.
     
  5. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

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    #5
    Sorry to interrupt, but isn't it "called" out? Not "caught" out? Or is this just a phrase I'm unfamiliar with?
     
  6. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    Bush drove through my area last week. Screwed up rush hour traffic on a Friday.

    There was a story about a couple who were forced to land by a military helicopter and arrested on the ground when they violated this airspace. They were in their Cessna going from New England to Maryland and didn't file a flight plan.

    They were searched, detained and interviewed for hours. I saw the video of them cuffed and being led away.

    Just a couple of normal folks...

    for shame. I remember when this was a free country.
     
  7. Griffon macrumors newbie

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    Don't blame Bush for this, blame those responsible, the terrorist. If that plan had crashed into the motorcade people would be demanding why didn't someone restrict the airspace and protect the motorcade.
     
  8. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #8
    Too bad that you and so many other Americans can only see the events of 9/11 as being the reason. The US support of the despotic Saud family, of bin Laden himself, of Saddam, of etc, etc. Terrorism didn't originate in Muslim speaking countries, it was introduced by the US.
     
  9. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

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    I've nothing useful to add... just that Clinton did that too me once. What a pain in the pa-too-ty!
     
  10. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    Filing a flight plan for VFR flight is a rarity, and wouldn't have helped in the situation you describe anyway. But whenever you hear a media report of a general aviation accident, almost invariably, they say the pilot didn't file a flight plan --- as if that was somehow the cause of the accident.

    We get preflight briefings either online or by phone from the Flight Service Centers. They're supposed to know about TFRs, presidential or otherwise. Two big problems. First, the Presidential TFRs are kept under wraps until the last possible moment, so a not at all improbable situation is to flight plan, take off, and fly right smack into one you didn't know existed (or find your destination airport closed -- that'd be fun). Second, the latest from the White House are these route TFRs. They follow highways and such. Earth to Bush: pilots do not carry road maps in the cockpit.

    AOPA is trying to help us out with the first problem by scanning White House press releases for planned campaign stops and posting this information on their web site, so at least we have some ability to plan our flying more than a few hours in advance. Apparently the Bush administration has expressed their displeasure with AOPA for circumventing their command-and-control approach.

    Either way, it's an invitation to more incidents like the one you describe, if not more serious and life-threatening. If only we could get it through our heads that we're suspects first and citizens second.

    Oh, but there's more... I just can't imagine anyone being overly interested in any more localized examples of post 9-11 foolishness.
     
  11. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #11
    There was a great op-ed piece in the Wash Post on Sunday that said basically the same thing. Though it went deeper towards US policy from multiple administrations that had little concern about Islamic/Muslim feelings and traditions.
     
  12. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    Try living and working in the DC area. I can't begin to count the times that I have and the rest of the area has been delayed in traffic and such because of the politicos.
     
  13. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    Speaking of Fox, MMFA just posted 33 internal memos outlining the Fox reporting angles on major news stories. They make for fascinating reading. Let's just say, FoxNews is the "all spin zone." Did anyone ever doubt that their bias is completely deliberate?

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200407140002
     
  14. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    If only a certain someone was here to argue the point!
     
  15. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    Meh, MM is a liberal front group for the Democratic party and therefore you shouldn't believe anything they say. FAUX is much more relaible, dontcha know?
     
  16. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    Hey, Moderator! Check this man's IP address NOW! It's spooky! :eek: :eek:
     
  17. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    Just trying to fill in the gap so many of you seem to miss for some reason. :p
     
  18. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

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    I was on the 95, except in PHilly!
     
  19. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

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    *sigh*
     
  20. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    I was going to cycle to work that day; I thought of the horror of turning into a blockaded area inadvertently and being "detained," as the rolling road shutdown was following the route I would have taken.

    But I should just blame the terrorists, because they've assassinated the President before, right?

    I drove instead, and went to the gym for three hours after work. Avoided the mess totally.
     
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    Not to minimize your experience, but when you're traveling on the ground, it's an inconvenience, but probably nothing more. You might have to pull over and wait or take another route to your destination. These presidential TFRs are closing nearly 3,000 square miles of airspace and often ten or more of airports, usually with very little warning. It's an accident waiting to happen, and when it does, you just know it's going to be blamed on "pilot error" (or not filing a flight plan -- the cause of most general aviation accidents).
     
  22. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    Can't wait 'til one runs out of fuel because its airfield was closed.

    Pilot error indeed.
     
  23. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    Not too mention that we drivers don't have our licenses threatened if we happen to stray into an area that wasn't posted before getting into our car.

    IJ is right, the TFR's are a disaster waiting to happen on many levels.

    Private pilots are an easy mark. Relatively small numbers. Private flying is looked upon as luxury by many. So complaints from the private pilots are looked upon as rich boys and girls grousing about keeping the rest of us safe.
     
  24. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    Ironically, pilots and airplane owners are a very Republican bunch. Although AOPA is trying address these issues, at the same time they're clearly tip-toeing around the cause: a Republican president who doesn't give a rat's patoot about the safety of private pilots. At the Town Meeting I attended this week, we were shown a video of Diane Feinstein welcoming us to the meeting, and pledging to support general aviation issues in Congress. Phil Boyer felt the need to introduce this video with, "While I don't agree with her on every issue..."

    Not very cordial, but he knows his audience.

    More Orwellian nonsense: Last year, the FAA and TSA adopted rules that allow them to revoke the Airman's Certificate of anyone they view as a threat to transportation security. They've been given no guidelines to follow for how to judge when someone is a threat. The reasons for the revocation need not be disclosed to the pilot. The pilot can only appeal the decision back to the TSA. So much for due process.
     

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