January 23, 2012

AP Misstates Pro-Life Purpose of Rand Paul’s TSA-Caused Missed Flight to DC

A frequent emailer saw a silver lining in Rand Paul’s detention this morning in Nashville by the Transportation Safety Administration: “Best way to get the MSM to mention pro-life rally.”

Well, that’s largely true. The local Nashville TV station video posted at Real Clear Politics mentions Paul’s prolife purpose up-front, as does a commentary by James Fallows at the Atlantic (who incidentally described the rally as “mammoth”). But my emailer underestimated the lengths to which reporters at the Associated Press would go to keep anything pro-life out of a story. In their 750-word report (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Erik Schelzig and Eileen Sullivan completely misstated why Paul wanted to get on the flight he was not able to board — which also means that their story’s headline is incomplete:

Sen. Rand Paul stopped by Tenn. airport security

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, the son of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and a frequent critic of the Transportation Security Administration, was stopped by security at the Nashville airport Monday when a scanner set off an alarm and Paul declined to allow a security officer to subsequently pat him down. The White House said airport security acted appropriately.

Police escorted Paul away, but he was allowed to board a later flight. The security scanner identified an issue with the senator’s knee, although Paul said he has no screws or medical hardware around the joint.

Paul, who frequently uses the airport about an hour from his home in Bowling Green, Ky., told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he asked for another scan but refused to submit to a pat down by airport security.

Paul said he was “detained” at a small cubicle and couldn’t make his flight to Washington for a Senate vote scheduled later in the day.

The March for Life Rally at which Paul was to speak went from 12 Noon until 1:30 p.m. Paul’s planned participation was before any scheduled events at the Senate, whose first event on the floor schedule did not take place until 2:00 p.m.

Perhaps Paul told the AP about both the Senate vote and the prolife speech; it’s extremely hard to believe that he would not have mentioned the prolife event at all. It’s much easier to believe that Schelzig and Sullivan decided not to mention it, especially since so many other news outlets — over 40, based on a Google News search done at 9:10 p.m. on ["Rand Paul" "March for Life"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets), including the New York Times, the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Boston.com, UPI, Business Insider, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, and Slate — got it right.

Paul arrived on a later flight at 1:50 p.m., according to Business Insider. Over six hours after Paul arrived, the pair of AP reporters only told readers that “The TSA said Paul was allowed to board another flight after a different screening,” and didn’t note that Paul should have been able to be present for most of the Senate’s scheduled business if he had chosen to go there after his experience. I guess that disclosing when Paul really arrived would have disrupted AP’s deceptive, non-life-mentioning narrative. Can’t have that.

How absolutely pathetic.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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