Watching James Fallows and Patrick Smith (of Ask the Pilot) work over Noah Gallagher Shannon’s “I almost died, on a plane” NY Times piece has been ugly but informative. Shannon’s story is his account of what happened when his flight got diverted. Here’s a taste:
The captain came out of the cockpit and stood in the aisle. His cap dangled in one hand. “All electricity will remain off,” he said. Something about an open current and preventing a cabin fire. Confused noises spread through the cabin, but no one said a word. “I’ll yell the rest of my commands from the cockpit.” I could see sweat stains under his arms. “Not going to sugarcoat it,” he said. “We’re just going to try to land it.”
Smith, especially, has shown that almost every detail of this story reeks with the stench of horseshit, and now he’s obtained the maintenance records for that flight (from a source hiding out in a hotel in Hong Kong, who is a traitor, mentally ill, or just wants to break up with his girlfriend). It’s pretty clear that Shannon’s tale is almost complete fabrication. The plane in question had a minor hydraulic problem, one that could not have affected the landing gear, and the worst thing that could have happened would be a longer landing rollout.
If you want to read some high-end media ass covering, Fallows was able to pry a response out of the Times.
Did the author’s personal recollection represent an accurate picture of what he experienced on that flight? Well, only he can attest to his own experience.
So as long as a reporter can “attest to their own experience”, and show that they were actually on a flight that was diverted, any fairy tale they cook up is fair game? The whole thing is minor, but also very telling.