Jamie Beckett's Blog

Rambling with Conviction

Jamie Beckett

Jamie Beckett
Florida, USA
December 21
Jamie Beckett, is a resident of central Florida, the United States, Earth. Jamie's first novel, "Burritos and Gasoline," sold beyond the author's wildest dreams, earning enough cold, hard cash to take the entire family out to Denny's - twice! His second work of fiction, a novella called "To the Lifeboats," (available exclusively in eBook format) was released in September 2012. Jamie is an author, a city commissioner, and the humble recipient of the Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association's 2012 Let's Go Flying award. An avid motorcyclist, dedicated airplane nut, and part-time guitar collector, Jamie is putting serious thought into developing some sort of career plan, as soon as more interesting things become somewhat less interesting.


AUGUST 9, 2009 3:57PM

Michael Bloomberg schools David Gregory on Mid-Air collision

Rate: 3 Flag

A little ignorance can go a long way. Unfortunately, a little ignorance coupled with a large megaphone can be downright dangerous. NBC's David Gregory, perhaps unwittingly, stepped through that door this morning on Meet the Press. While posing a question to Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, Gregory misspoke badly. Perhaps in an effort to frame his question more broadly than to focus specifically on yesterday's tragic mid-air collision between a single-engine airplane and a helicopter over the Hudson River, Gregory made reference to the, “...unregulated travel in the air in that particular corridor.”

Mr. Gregory, who has significant access to solid information at his disposal, as well as the ability to present authorities on virtually any topic of his choosing to the American public, stubbed his editorial toe on live television. In truth there is no unregulated travel in the air in that particular corridor. A fact that could have been quickly and easily established with a single phone call to an FAA office, an aviation advocacy group, or even a local flight school.  

The sad truth is that even a quick Google search of that question would have turned up several sites explaining the various requirements to fly above the Hudson River in the vicinity of New York City. Among them is an excllent web page written by a self-described local pilot named, Scott Germaise. His well written page on flying the Hudson River is chock full of pertinent information on this exact topic, including several warnings for pilots who are unfamiliar with the area to use the appropriate charts and become thoroughly familiar with the area and its procedures before venturing into some of the most congested and highly regulated airspace in the country.

NBC's Gregory went on to ask New York's mayor, “Are there some changes that should be made about the fact that there can be such unregulated travel there.” A question that is doubly disturbing because it not only presents a fallacy as a fact, but it poses a question of aviation safety to a public official who has no particular expertise or responsibility for the activity the question focuses on.

Hat's off to Michael Bloomberg for answering an unprofessional, ill-informed question that was based almost entirely on ignorance and fear, in a cool, responsible manner. “Well the National Transportation Safety Board will do a complete investigation...” replied the mayor, who correctly informed the public that the FAA is responsible for the airspace above the United States. As the mayor rightly pointed out, it is they who, “...set these rules as to where you can fly.”

The tragedy that resulted in Saturday afternoon's loss of life is unfortunate. In the end the NTSB inquiry will almost certainly find that this accident was avoidable. The FAA will issue new warnings and/or regulations in response to those findings that will remind pilots and air-traffic controllers of the terrible cost of inattention in the air. But aviation will continue to be a common form of transportation. One that continues to operate with an enviable safety record, even in the face of tragic events like those that unfolded this weekend over the Hudson.

NBC on the other hand could take this opportunity to implement a policy of doing their homework before reporting on a story, and make it a hard and fast policy to present only facts as facts and opinions as only opinions. There is certainly a place for uniformed speculation on a nationally televised program, if for no other reason than to stimulate debate. But to frame total ignorance as the reporting of factual information is inexcusable from a news organization with a history as proudly earned as that once enjoyed by NBC. David Gregory should know better. And so should the producer who put this episode on the air.  

Note: Jamie Beckett hold a Commercial Pilot's certificate issued by the FAA, as well as Flight and Ground Instructor ratings.

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Well done. Your piece illustrates the need for talking heads to do their homework beforehand. Unfortunately, your example isn't a solitary one. I hope you sent this article to David Gregory so he can correct his mischaracterization of the Hudson River airspace.
Jamie… great catch! NBC’s “Meet the Press” host, David Gregory’s ignorance is ego driven; plain & simple. Ever since he was given that job, he has on numerous occasions shown his inability to get the facts correct. Tim Russert, he is not and never will be.

Mayor Bloomburg was correct with his response. Maybe Gregory should stick to what he knows… nothing! And let the ratings continue to fall.

- rated
Thanks for the back-up, Kathy and gmgaston. It's a real issue for me as I increasingly find newsmen and newswomen with only the most tenuous grasp on the stories they report, representing the information they provide as well thought-out, carefully researched reporting.

It's certainly okay to be ignorant on any number of topics. But for the sake of your professional reputation (if nothing else) would it be so hard to do a little homework before speaking on air, or putting your piece into print?

It's gratifying to know I'm not there are others who are similarly disturbed and keeping an eye out for good 'ol fashioned, accurate reporting.
The sad fact is, nobody in any area of the media seems to check anything anymore, with the possible exception of The New Yorker. The New York Times and other media outlets were complicit in the erroneous -- or invented -- findings of the Bush Administration regarding WMD in Iraq. So David Gregory's mistake is no big surprise. But Kudos to you Jamie, for uncovering it!
I love it when people in the know on any given topic speak up and clarify issues that people to lazy to do the work on. I have to admit that I was motivated to read this post because of my disgust with Gregory who is a poor entertainer masking as a journalist. Very good report on a subject frankly, that is not of major importance of concern to me.
Far be it from me to defend Gregory ... he's been a big disappointment, but realize that this poor choice of words is not wildly inaccurate --- the area we're talking about is not air-traffic-controlled (not at that altitude) and that's what Stretch is talking about, describing it as "unregulated." Pilots manage themselve by visual rules and a basic "keep right" system over the Hudson.

Is easy to misspeak ... or mistype. Like your reader who misspelled "Bloomberg," calling him "Bloomburg" or like you, Jamie, who wrote "Hat's off to ..." when it should be "Hats off." It's not possessive, and not a contraction.

Gregory's mischaracterization would not get any column space (for correction) in any decent newspaper - it's not as crazy as referring to G.W. Bush as "the elected President of the United States." Now THERE's a factual error that should have been corrected!