Friday, December 25, 2009

Flight 253: Which Version Shall We Believe?

Is this just a matter of nuance?

The writers' spin in these two articles is so diametrically opposed, I had to double-check to confirm these reports relate to the same flight and incident (they do):

Passenger tried to blow up U.S. flight: Officials (Toronto Star)

A Northwest Airlines passenger landing in Detroit on Friday tried to blow up the flight but the explosive device failed, two U.S. national security officials said.
Passenger Sets Off Firecrackers on Flight to Detroit (New York Times)

A passenger aboard a plane at Detroit Metropolitan Airport set off firecrackers Friday, causing a commotion and some minor injuries, a Delta official said.

It's almost as if these two, early reports on this troubling incident were written by dueling speechwriters from the Bush and Obama administrations.

Who to believe?

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto


The Times report has been changed. Associated Press now reports:

ROMULUS, Mich. – A Nigerian man who said he was an agent for al-Qaida tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane Friday as it was preparing to land in Detroit, but travelers who smelled smoke and heard what sounded like firecrackers rushed to subdue him, the passengers and federal officials said.

Flight 253 with 278 passengers and 11 crew members aboard was about 20 minutes from the airport when passengers heard popping noises, witnesses said. At least one person climbed over others and jumped on the man. Shortly afterward, the suspect was taken to the front of the plane with his pants cut off and his legs burned, a passenger said.

One U.S. intelligence official said the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid. It failed when the passenger tried to detonate it.

"It sounded like a firecracker in a pillowcase," said Peter Smith, a traveler from the Netherlands. "First there was a pop, and then (there) was smoke."


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Anonymous said...

"It's almost as if these two, early reports on this troubling incident were written by dueling speechwriters from the Bush and Obama administrations.'

George Bush is still on your mind?

What about the 1 billion that Dalton gave away to his friends?

Is that on your mind,pinhead?

Anonymous said...

At this point, the NY Times article appears to be updated to read much more seriously . . . calling it an attempted terrorist act as the Star did. The only reference to "fireworks" now is that passengers said that is what the device sounded like.

So my guess is the initial NY Times article was written based on those verbal reports, whereas now that the White House and Homeland Security (I still hate than name) have weighed in, the reporting itself is a bit weightier as well.

Good catch and observation on the initial reporting, though.

ridenrain said...

Even if it was fireworks, it's still a crime so I see little reason why he should be treated lightly.

Garry J. Wise, Wise Law Office, Toronto said...

Who's Dalton?

Thanks for stopping by, Anon :)

Anonymous said...

What an awful, awful blunder.

Taking a witnesses' statement about the threat *sounding* like a fire-cracker to imply a sort of celebration is not within a canon shot of what really happened, and is especially suprising for a paper like the NYT.

I guess it's true that in Journalism, the final story is only as good as quality of research used in telling it.