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Tuesday, June 21, 2011
CNS Attack on Michelle Obama Disappears

In a June 21 article, James Zilenziger wrote:

Michelle, Mom, Kids Africa Trip Costing Taxpayers $171,000 At Least for Air Travel Alone

The White House isn’t saying how much of a tab the taxpayers will need to pick up for the week-long trip that First Lady Michelle Obama, her two children, her mother, a niece and a nephew are taking to South Africa and Botswana.

But according to Congressional Research Service estimates, the flights alone will cost taxpayers more than $171,000--almost as much as the $174,000 annual salaries paid to rank-and-file members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The first lady--joined by daughters Malia and Sasha, Marian Robinson, and niece and nephew Leslie and Avery Robinson--is going to Africa to “improve relations between the U.S. and Africa and promote youth engagement, education, health and wellness,” according to the White House.

When asked the first lady’s press office how much, on a daily basis, her trip to Africa will cost U.S. taxpayers her press secretary did not offer a response.

The White House did tell the Associated Press that all costs regarding Mrs. Obama’s family members are to be paid privately. However, because Mrs. Obama's trip will be considered official travel until her family heads off for “private time, including a safari and an overnight stay in the animal park” on Saturday, the taxpayers will be footing the bill for the first lady up to that point.

Note that, in that excerpt at least, Zilenziger offers no proof that the flights cost $171,000, just Congressional Research Service estimates. We can't examine the story further because CNS has apparently removed it from its website and took it off its front page. The article's URL returns an "access denied" message. (The above excerpt was taken from a copy iof the story at Free Republic.

The obvious implication is that the story is so inaccurate that it had to be deleted. But as of this writing, CNS has not explained why the story was pulled.

If CNS has deleted a story after it was posted on its website long enough for other websites to pick it up, it has an obligation to explain why -- and to correct the false information. That's just basic journalism.

UPDATE: Here's the original CNS story as it appears in Google cache.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:22 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 2:42 PM EDT

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