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Monday, March 16, 2009
WND, Newsmax Do PR for Judicial Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily and Newsmax served as public-relations agents for Judicial Watch by uncritically repeating their allegations of abuse of military plane privileges by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi without making any effort whatsoever to tell the other side of the story.

WND's Chelsea Schilling hewed the closest to Judicial Watch's press release in a March 10 article, regurgitating Judicial Watch's description of itself as "the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption" and failing to note its history of disproportionate attacks against Democrats.

David Pattten was similarly acquiescent to Judicial Watch in a March 11 Newsmax article, describing it as as "the nonprofit organization that exposes government waste and corruption" and saying nothing about its anti-liberal bias.

Not only did Schilling and Patten both fail to seek comment from Pelosi or anyone else, they both repeated the same anecdotes from Judicial Watch's press release without telling the full story. For instance, both cited a email from from one Pelosi staffer, as described by Patten:

In one instance, a House staffer shot off an e-mail to Air Force officials stating: "It is my understanding there are no G5s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable...The speaker will want to know where the planes are."

In fact, as Media Matters and ABC News detail, that particular email came in reference to planes available for bipartisan trips by congressional delegations -- not the speaker's personal travel. Further, many of those congressional delegations included Republicans, which Schilling and Patten also fail to mention.

Meanwhile, Schilling botches the background of the plane issue, writing: "Since Sept. 11, Pelosi has received what the Air Force refers to as 'shuttle service,' allegedly due to concerns for security." False; in fact, the speaker of the House, not Pelosi personally -- who has been speaker only since 2007 -- has received that service since the 9/11 terror attacks. It means that Pelosi's predecessor, Republican Dennis Hastert, took advantage of that privilege as well.

Schilling also uncritically repeats Judicial Watch's claim that "In recent years, Pelosi has reportedly requested a C-32 plane for her travels. The aircraft is a luxurious version of the Boeing 757-200 commercial intercontinental airliner and costs $22,000 an hour to operate." In fact, according to

She does not routinely fly about in a 757-size jet that she demanded from the Air Force. She normally flies on the same type of executive jet as her Republican predecessor.


Pelosi has used the Air Force equivalent of a Boeing 757 to fly between Washington, D.C., and her San Francisco district. But she has done so exactly once, when no smaller aircraft was available, according to Air Force spokesman Eric Sharman. At other times she flies in a much smaller, 12-seat executive jet, the same type used by her Republican predecessor, Dennis Hastert.

Telling the full story, it seems, is beyond the journalistic capabilities of both Schilling and Patten.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:22 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, March 16, 2009 9:22 AM EDT

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