Interesting Week for Campaign Airplanes and the Media

The news media this week made quite a lot out of two incidents involving airplanes on the presidential campaign trail, and in the process came off looking – well, kind of dumb.

The first episode happened when a charter flight between Omaha, Nebraska, and Santa Monica, California, carrying Ann Romney made an emergency landing in Denver after smoke filled the cockpit and cabin. The second happened when Air Force One initiated a missed approach in Ohio after the crew experienced turbulence on approach.

The first incident was potentially extremely dangerous, and the crew of Romney’s Challenger 600 should be commended for getting the airplane on the ground safely. In the second case, a missed approach is hardly the “emergency” situation many news outlets made it out to be, although it makes for interesting reading when the president’s airplane does a go-around.

At a fundraiser after he learned that his wife was okay, Mitt Romney joked, “I don’t know why the windows don’t roll down” on airplanes. The line earned hearty laughs all around.

It also prompted this lead in a news story by a reporter at, who wasn't at the event but had read about it: "In his latest gaffe, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lamented the fact that airplane windows don't roll down." The story goes on to explain in some detail why the windows of private jets, indeed, do not roll down.

The report was followed a few hours later by this red-faced clarification: "Update: Romney was joking. The New York Times' Ashley Parker, who wrote the original report about the Beverly Hills fundraiser that quickly got spread around the Web, told New York Magazine today that Romney had been joking. Parker said that while her report didn't explicitly indicate Romney was joking, 'it was clear from the context' that he was."

Uh-huh. Thanks for clearing that up.


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