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Posted by on Sep 25, 2012 in Media, Politics | 22 comments

Report: Romney Was Only Truly Joking About Airplane Windows

New York Magazine’s Dan Amira reports that it turns out that Republican Presidential candidate MItt Romney was only truly joking in his comment about airplane windows. Here’s his intro:

The Internet was tickled silly yesterday when it learned that Mitt Romney lacks an even basic understanding of the airplanes he has flown on probably thousands of times at this point in his 65-year life. It seemed almost unthinkable that a guy as obviously intelligent as Romney would fail to grasp that, because the cabin is pressurized, opening a window..

And the real situation:

The Los Angeles Times story that relayed Romney’s airplane remark to the world was based off a pool report written by the New York Times’s Ashley Parker. When we asked Parker this morning whether it seemed as if Romney made the mark in jest, she left no doubt. “Romney was joking,” she e-mailed. Parker told us that while the pool report didn’t explicitly indicate that Romney was joking, it was self-evident that he was. “The pool report provided the full transcript of his comments on Ann’s plane scare,” she said, “and it was clear from the context that he was not being serious.”

I’ve added italics. There is more so go to the link and read it all.

This site and others, talk show hosts, cable channels, etc. all reported on this story with the original assumption. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

The reason is that it underscores a key to modern media, not only new media. Many websites, shows, etc that report and comment on the news go on the assumption that a report they’re reading is accurate. In this case, the original report probably needed a sentence to stress that Romney was joking.

GO HERE and you’ll see that on Google News the original story still stands.

One reason why it had such credibility: there was George H.B. Bush looking in seeming amazement at a supermarket scanner. Stranger things have happened=. And I’ve heard there is a whole new custom order of two crates of shoes being shipped from Bangladesh to Vice President Joe Biden because his mouth saliva wears out his shoes so quickly.

But the larger truth about stories that appear and take on a life of their own even if they prove to be incorrect is this:

Websites don’t re-report articles they quote. Bloggers don’t re-report articles they quote or the veracity of the stories they link to, or the veracity of each assertion or statistic used by someone in an article or post. In the war on terror there had been many stories, for instance, of bigname terrorists being killed and they turned out to be false (but accurate in some notable cases, to be sure).

Many talk shows and cable shows get their news tips by looking at their favorite blogs, or going to one of our favorite news aggregators If you go to you’d be hard pressed to find any of the blogs or websites that link to those articles getting on the phone and re-reporting them, or asking a reporter: “Now, are you sure X, Y, or Z meant that?”

Today when they quote newspapers, cable news — people don’t re-report each report they see or use. They assume it’s true. Or, in this case, they may also assume something is there that isn’t there or if they read closer was not there. Or there.

What your Aunt Fanny told you is correct: “Assume makes an ‘ass’ or ‘u’ and ‘me'” but reporting on reports and not re-reporting every assertion made is the way our media works.

Amira did the checking on this one and, yes, it happened.

And will likely happen again.

(Stay tuned…..)

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • StockBoyLA

    I’m glad he was joking. I thought he might have been but from reading the quotes it seemed as though he was serious. Glad to have the full story. Thanks.

  • ShannonLeee

    This is why misinformation is so effective.

  • The_Ohioan

    Two words would have been helpful. – “, he joked”. In the context of that whole paragraph, it sure is out of place if he was joking. Just one more instance of a severely challenged sense of humor to place a joke within several sentences of anxiety about a terrible situation.

  • dduck

    The damage is done. The Dems have run such an effective campaign against Romney that even such a ludicrous idea like the airplane window is taken seriously and not just by those mentally challenged but by many supposedly intelligent folks in the various mediums. (Look in the mirror and see if there is a devil on your shoulder or an angel.)

    Besides, everyone knows you have to ask the plane’s captain to open his window first. (ALERT: This is a joke.)

  • zephyr

    Good to know it was a joke and not an addition to the mountain of rightwing benightedness. The need for passengers to depressurize jets at will is kind of an odd thing to be joking about though isn’t it? In any case, context matters a LOT. Seems like “journalists” would have figured this out by now.

  • adelinesdad

    This proves that the invention of the emoticon is clearly an important milestone in our cultural development. A simple 😉 would have gone a long way.

    But seriously, the only story here is how easily people believe something so ridiculous if it reinforces their world-view. You can say a lot of things about Romney, but he’s not stupid.

    I first wrote a blog post entitled about the death of skepticism when a video was released of GWB at a summit where it appeared that no world leaders wanted to shake hands with him. I urged caution on jumping to conclusion, for which I was called names. It was later revealed that there was a reasonable explanation (he had met them all a few minutes earlier).

  • zephyr

    adelinesdad, the death of skepticism is a valid concern these days, no doubt about it, however, given the modern day “conservative” history of attitudes toward such things as global warming, evolution, abortion rights, social security, foreign policy, well.. it’s hardly a stetch to believe thier current wannabee prez might not grasp the importance of something like cabin pressure. So… are you sure this development isn’t just a late breaking attempt at damage control? 😉

  • dduck

    Z, check your cabin pressure. (smiley)

  • The_Ohioan

    Mitt Romney said: “I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were. When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.”

    I guess you had to be there…to see the twinkle in his eye? The smile? I have no excuse for considering this as a strange (if it was joking) statement having re-read it several times. I do consider Mr. Romney a very smart man. I also consider him one who tends to blurt out whatever crosses that very smart mind, whether within the realm of reason or not. When it happens over and over and over, it’s not just a predisposition on the part of the listener to consider his statements strange, but an understandable acknowledgement of his malapromisms.

    Maybe someone can parse the paragraph with “joke starts” and “joke stops” indicators for the rest of us.

  • dduck

    Is he the Rep version of Biden, who is always considered to be joking.

  • roro80

    The problem is that he’s just so bad at humor. Also, something like Poe’s law comes into place. I mean, this is a man who strapped a dog to the top of his car for a 12-hour drive. Transportation and the safety thereof do not seem to be among his strong points.

  • dduck


  • ordinarysparrow

    “When interviewed by Chris Wallace of Fox News, Romney stated that Seamus enjoyed being in the dog carrier, an “air-tight kennel”, and that he was not aware of any violations of Massachusetts law. …. During an April 2012 interview with ABC News, Diane Sawyer asked Mitt Romney about the Seamus story and if he would ever do it again. Romney replied, “Certainly not with the attention it’s received”, after which Sawyer stated, “You said it was the most wounding thing in the campaign so far”, though it is ambiguous as to whether Romney agreed with this statement. During the same interview, Ann Romney stated that Seamus got diarrhea from eating turkey off the table before the trip, and that the dog loved the crate. Mitt Romney states he loves his dog.” Wikipedia

    And joking about the airplane windows when speaking of a serious plane incident with his wife on board…..


    Maybe Romney can do stand up after the first week in November….

  • cjjack

    As a person who has written and performed many jokes onstage at comedy clubs, I think I can say without reservation that if you tell a joke in public, and it takes two days for the public to figure out it was a joke, then you are terrible at writing jokes, and even more terrible at delivering them.

  • zephyr

    Maybe Romney can do stand up after the first week in November

    Righto! Good thing he has all those millions stashed away, he’d starve if he had to depend on standup.

    cjjack’s take on this is good enough for me.

    Thanks dd. I just checked, seems to be OK!

  • The_Ohioan

    Finally saw the tape. He was joking, believe it or not.

  • There’s an old adage about “playing to your strengths”. The corollary is “avoid your weaknesses”. As to the latter, it’s the primary reason I don’t perform brain surgery and why Romney should not perform comedy.

  • adelinesdad

    TO, there’s a tape?

    Obviously a sense of humor is pretty low on the list of things that are important for a president to have, but since we’re talking about it (incredibly), it seems fairly obvious to me that (a) you can’t gauge a verbal joke by how it plays in writing, and (b) not every light-hearted thing something says is intended to be a ROTFL-style joke. I also think it’s ironic that he is accused now of making light of a serious situation when he is usually accused of the opposite: being too serious.

    I’m going to be disappointed in the results of the election no matter who wins, but on top of that I’m disappointed in us. We ought to expect better of our politicians, but more importantly we ought to expect better of ourselves to rise above this crap. Was he joking? Was the joke funny? Was it an appropriate joke? WHO CARES?

    Sorry for the rant. Just had to get that off my chest.

  • The_Ohioan


    It’s the disconnect between fear-then joke-then fear again. It’s disconcerting; especially in a man who would be President and has to face fearful happenings all the time. Will he have a brain f**t in the middle of a speech to the nation? A meeting with a difficult foreign leader? In a crisis?

    Here’s a portion of the tape:;_ylt=A2KLqIIYdmNQCTkAmx37w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTBrc3VyamVwBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQD?p=romney+airplane+window&vid=EB09A0A415E0EAAB83ABEB09A0A415E0EAAB83AB&l=&

    And here’s Mrs. Romney’s take, which I expect is exactly what happened.

    She explained her husband’s subsequent comment afterward at a fundraiser when he joked that he didn’t know why the windows on the plane don’t open.

    “It’s his way of making light of how worried he is about me,” she said. “It’s his way of dealing with the panic of knowing how dangerous this was.”

    It’s his way of dealing with panic. We are not used to seeing our leaders in a panic. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but, like McCain’s suspension of his campaign during the meltdown, it makes everyone nervous. Not you, of course. 🙂

  • dduck

    What’s going on today? Airplane windows that don’t open, PowerPoint for cows, Madonna spilling the beans, mini-apartments, media bias (well maybe), Ahmadinejad “committed to peace”, and the antiJihad subway ads that got a spray painter arrested.

  • The_Ohioan


    I think they’re passing around those funny brownies again. And if that doesn’t date me, nothing will.

  • adelinesdad

    TO, there are lots of things that make me nervous about a Romney presidency as well as another Obama presidency. Romney’s concern, fear, or panic if you prefer, regarding his wife being in critical danger isn’t high on the list, nor is his tendency to make awkward jokes.

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