Friday, January 16, 2004


CBS = Censor Brave Stories?

First CBS refused to run "The Reagans". Then Move-on had this great contest -- create a 30-second anti-Bush commercial -- and now CBS is refusing to sell Move-on a slot during the Super Bowl to show the winner. (Have you seen it?)

Now CBS News-distortion is at it again. I'm a pilot. I fly a harmless little sky-volkswagen. When hijackers crashed flying ten-thousand gallon fuel tanks into buildings, my 40-gallon airplane was grounded for three months. The ten-thousand-gallon guys were flying again in days. Last Wednesday, CBS News re-hyped the terrorism-general-aviation "connection." Phil Boyer, the President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which represents pilots like me, is a moderate, mainstream, executive-type guy who works well with Congress, the FAA and the public. But he called the CBS story, "slanted, incomplete, factually erroneous, and salaciously inflammatory." An article in the most recent AOPA ePilot points out that CBS's:
. . . irresponsible reporting techniques included . . . failure to mention a wide range of security initiatives--developed by AOPA and other organizations in concert with the FAA and Homeland Security--that are now in practice across the country," Boyer wrote the head of CBS News, Andrew Heyward. Boyer said that the "security expert" in the story was in fact a public relations consultant with grief counseling experience at the NTSB. The other "expert" was a real estate agent.
In my experience, small airports are communities where everybody knows everybody (and if not, they find out). When an engine starts up, the neighbors' window shades go up -- not from nosiness, but because the beginning of an airplane flight is a genuinely exciting experience. People on airports want to share the experience of flight and know their neighbors. (I met one of my best friends because he tied down his plane next to mine.) At airports that are too big for this kind of community interaction, stricter security measures are in place. And from my experience, pilots tend to be right-of-center patriots. Many learned to fly during military service. They'd be more likely to stop a potential terrorist than the Nail Clipper Police.

But all this assumes that light aircraft are potential terrorist weapons, and they're not. If the Feds want to "do something," they might want to focus on the gazillions of uninspected containers that enter the country every day. Or the gajillions of eighteen-wheelers on the road. Ultimately, the most effective thing the Feds can do to deter terrorism is to make the United States admired instead of feared.

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