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OK … I’ll admit it. I did get a little testy on Twitter (@Talkmaster) Saturday afternoon while watching coverage of the crash landing of that Asiana 777 in San Francisco. There’s an explanation.

My first hint at a problem at SFO was a video a follower sent me of the smoke from the burning aircraft. I immediately went to the usual sites on the Internet and TV to see what was going on. Nothing. Nobody had a clue. Twitter beat out the big boys.

Eventually, though, the coverage started to break on CNN and Fox News. I chose Fox. This was the only way I could be assured that Piers Morgan wasn’t going to be part of the coverage. Right off the bat it became clear that Fox was relying on reports from people who barely new the difference between a DC7 and a 777. The errors and impossibilities in the reporting were laughable, so I switched to CNN. Not much better there … and loyalties are loyalties … so it was back to Fox.

We need Fox News. Oh, I know Fox drives the proggies nuts. They’re so used to having a lock on the principal news outlets that they can scarcely believe there are people out there reporting from a different perspective. Without Fox News we never would have known of Obama’s failed gun running program Fast & Furious. Fox News kept us in the loop on Benghazi. While other networks, broadcast and cable, were telling us the story on the IRS scandal was pretty much over, Fox was still revealing new angles; including the fact that the orders to drop the IRS hammer on conservative organizations came from the Obama junta.

I’m persona non grata on Fox these days. Maybe it was that sports coat I wore on Cavuto. Perhaps they think I was the one who goaded Beckel into dropping that F-bomb. Maybe they didn’t appreciate me telling folks that although Shep Smith is an incredible anchor, he really is quite a jerk in person. Who knows? I’m retired, and I’m fine with it. The makeup made my face break out anyway. But I still watch Fox News (right up until Hubcap O’Reilly at 8:00) and I revel in the way they clobber CNN and annihilate MSNBC in the ratings.

So here’s the problem. Fox News is attacked constantly by the left because they dare to report what the leftist media won’t. To repel these attacks, Fox News has to work harder than most to retain its reputation for accuracy in news reporting. People who hear absurdities solemnly presented in the coverage of a major aviation story are very likely to lose confidence in the political side of Fox reporting as well.

Just what mistakes did various Fox reporters make this weekend? Well here’s a few:

  • “The plane skidded on its back down the runway.” That gem was repeated for fully five hours after the accident and after half the free world saw the plane sitting upright in the dirt next to runway 28L.
  • "We don't know if there were one or two pilots. Presumably there were at least two." You don’t know? There are ALWAYS at least two pilots on a commercial flight. This time there were four.
  • “The plane overshot the runway.” Heard this several times. Tell me … if you overshoot a runway how do you manage to leave a debris field at the very beginning of the runway? Look up “undershot.”
  • “The plane cartwheeled down the runway.” Though it did lift in the air at one point before it slammed back down, the plane actually spun down the runway. It did not turn cartwheels.
  • Explaining video of one of the jet engines: “That’s the engine. That’s what makes it go.” Really? Now to be fair, don’t remember if I saw that one on CNN or Fox.
  • Now here’s one I didn’t hear myself, but got it from multiple Twitter followers. One reporter said that the problem might have been caused by the plane landing into the wind. Uh huh. Airplanes always land into the wind, Sherlock. Also heard that one reporter said that the airplane “landed first, then crashed.”
  • I truly thought that if kept listening I would soon hear someone say that the accident was either caused by global warming, George Bush, or the fact that gravity is always stronger over water than it is over land.
  • This wasn’t a part of this particular incident, but I am reminded of an accident in Atlanta. A small plane encountered a sinkhole while taxiing to the runway for takeoff. A wheel went into the pothole and the prop struck the ground. The local news anchor said “the plane crashed on takeoff.”

Part of my angst here is surely due to my own personal interest in aviation. I studied aerospace engineering. I’ve been a pilot for about 35 years. I’ve heard liberals like Obama demonize the evil “rich” people who own and fly their own private aircraft, even though the average value of a single-engine piston airplane flying today is less than the cost of a new bass rig.

Aviation and the flying public are poorly served by people who know nothing about the subject engaging in wild and mindless speculation when an incident happens. Fox, CNN and the rest of the broadcast media can, and should, do better.

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