Media Watch: The Sharyl Attkisson approach
First, the back story:
(CBS/AP) LOS ANGELES – American Airlines took to its Facebook page Wednesday to explain its actions after Alec Baldwin complained he was kicked off a flight for playing a Scrabble-like game on his cell phone as the plane was about to depart from Los Angeles.
Without mentioning the “30 Rock” star by name, the airline said an “extremely vocal customer” declined to turn off his phone when asked to do so by a flight attendant.
The customer then stood up “with the seat belt light still on for departure” and took his phone into the plane’s lavatory, the company continued.
“He slammed the lavatory door so hard, the cockpit crew heard it and became alarmed, even with the cockpit door closed and locked,” the airline’s post said.
The passenger was extremely rude to the crew, calling them inappropriate names and using offensive language,” it continued. “Given the facts above, the passenger was removed from the flight and denied boarding.”
On Twitter, American Airlines said its flight attendants followed federal safety regulations regarding electronic devices.
Baldwin wrote on Twitter Tuesday that he was “reamed” by a flight attendant for playing the game “Words with Friends” while the plane sat at a gate at Los Angeles International Airport.
His spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik, added, “He loves ‘Words with Friends’ so much that he was willing to leave a plane for it.”
The actor boarded another American Airlines flight to New York after Tuesday’s incident, but tweeted that he wouldn’t fly with the airline again, despite the fact that they show “30 Rock” for in-flight entertainment.
He also took a jab at the airline’s flight attendants, tweeting, “Last flight w American. Where retired Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950′s find jobs as flight attendants.”
The actor has since deactivated his Twitter account.
Oh, here’s more of Baldwin’s “apology”:
First off, I would like to apologize to the other passengers onboard the American Airlines flight that I was thrown off of yesterday. It was never my intention to inconvenience anyone with my “issue” with a certain flight attendant.
I suppose a part of my frustration lay with the fact that I had flown American for over 20 years and was brand loyal, in the extreme. The ticketing agents and Admiral’s Club staff have always been nothing but abundantly helpful to me, as I have flown hundreds of thousands of miles with the one carrier.
My confusion began when the flight, already a half hour behind schedule, boarded, the door closed, and we proceeded to sit at the gate for another fifteen minutes. I then did what I have nearly always done and that was to pull out my phone to complete any other messaging [NOTE from ST: This is a lie, as per Baldwin's tweets from last night. He was playing "Words With Friends" on his cell phone.] I had to do before take off. In nearly all other instances, the flight attendants seemed to be unbothered by and said nothing about such activity, by me or anyone else, until we actually were pulling away from the gate.
In this case, while other people were still manipulating their own phones, this one employee singled me out to put my phone away. Afterward, we still sat at the gate. I pulled out my phone again, while others did the same. Again, I was singled out by this woman in the most unpleasant of tones. I guess the fact that this woman, who had decided to make some example of me, while everyone else was left undisturbed, did get the better of me.
However, I have learned a valuable lesson. Airlines in the US are struggling with fuel costs, labor costs, bankruptcies, you name it. It’s no secret that the level of service on US carriers has deteriorated to a point that would make Howard Hughes red-faced. Filthy planes, barely edible meals, cuts in jet service to less-traveled locations. One of the big changes, in my time, is in the increase of the post-9/11, paramilitary bearing of much of the air travel business. September 11th was a horrific day in the airline industry, yet in the wake of that event, I believe carriers and airports have used that as an excuse to make the air travel experience as inelegant as possible.
Most of the flight attendants I have ever encountered still have some remnant of the old idea of service. Add to that the notion that in this day and age, many people have a lot of important work to do, by phone, and would like to do so till the last possible minute. But there are many now who walk the aisles of an airplane with a whistle around their neck and a clipboard in their hands and they have made flying a Greyhound bus experience.
The lesson I’ve learned is to keep my phone off when the 1950′s gym teacher is on duty. That was my fault there, even though this trip was quite a bit different from so many others. But it is sad, I think, that you’ve got to fly overseas today in order to bring back what has been thrown overboard by US carriers in terms of common sense, style, and service.
Again, my apology to my fellow travelers.
What an arrogant, pathetic, self-serving, irresponsible jerk. ”Oh please, please feel sorry for me and look at me!” he’s screaming with that “apology.” Then again, what do you expect from a pseudo-intellectual nitwit who, among other things, has had “patriotic” fantasies about murdering Dick Cheney and who thinks nothing of cursing out his young daughter and calling her a “rude, thoughtless little pig“?
The term “anger management issues” was invented for raging punk-a** creeps like Alec Baldwin.