Media Blog

The TSA and the Drudge Effect on the News

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’ve been defending the TSA procedures. I agree that there are certainly valid reasons to be against what’s going on, but there’s a lot of misinformation that’s getting the Drudge treatment, and that’s not making the debate any easier.

In this Corner post, Shannen Coffin commented on a few of the stories getting “Drudged,” and in each case, there’s more to the story.

The little boy without a shirt in Utah? His dad took it off after he got angry with the TSA agent.

The nun getting searched? That was from 2007. Blame Bush.

And one particularly egregious example (not in Shannen’s post) is this story from the U.K. version of The Onion alleging a TSA screener was arrested for, um, self-abuse at one of the full-body imaging scanners in Denver. Like Dan Rather — fake, but true.

Howard Kurtz weighs in here, going as far as to call the MSM coverage of the few stories there are of TSA issues “junk journalsim.”

One argument I constantly read is that we need to start profiling. But profile whom? U.S. Army officers who are Muslim, and their families, because of the Ft. Hood attack? White kids with blond hair and blue eyes? I don’t know the right answer, I don’t think the TSA knows the right answer, and I don’t think if the U.S. hired the top people from Israel that they’d know the right answer.

With that said, the TSA needs an injection, as Shannen pointed out, of common sense.

I was traveling earlier this year when screeners were giving a survivor from the USS Indianapolis grief going through the metal detector. The former sailor seemed to be suffering from mild dementia, and the attitude of the TSA people was far from acceptable, especially given the nature of the horrors the man had lived through. (He was traveling to a reunion of USS Indianapolis survivors at the time and was decked out from head to toe in USS Indianapolis gear. The fact the screeners didn’t understand the significance of his ship is another, but equally important, issue.)

And then there’s this horror story of a bladder cancer survivor who ended up covered in his own urine because the TSA agent didn’t have the sense or compassion to understand what he or she was dealing with.

With all the traveling I’ve done with my kids, I’ve actually only had positive interactions with TSA agents. But these anecdotal stores do show a pattern where the same people we’re trusting to have the good sense to stop a terrorist attack don’t have enough common sense to get out of the rain. Although the TSA can’t fire the bottom 20% of their workforce and hire some of the qualified unemployed masses out there to fill in before the Thanksgiving rush, what can be done is the TSA should cancel the vacation of every manager, bring in extra managers from DHS if needed, and make sure there are people who do have common sense at each checkpoint to make sure the TSA screeners are doing the job they’re supposed to be doing.

Maybe this is just wishful thinking as it seems common sense is lacking all the way to the top of the TSA? The latest is that TSA head John Pistole thought it would be best not to inform the public about the enhanced techniques. Did he think flyers wouldn’t notice?

We’re in a war. Islamic terrorists are trying to blow up our planes. If your’re asking Americans to make this extra sacrifice, it’s time the white-collar folks at the TSA and DHS are asked the same.

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