CBS Story Hits Small Airport Stimulus Grants
AOPA says it tried to help CBS balance a story it ran on the distribution of stimulus money to small airports but didn't get the chance. The network pointed out that about a third of the $1.1 billion in stimulus money earmarked for "little-used airports or ones catering to recreational flyers, corporate jets and remote communities," suggesting that big airports, like LAX, went begging for projects like "critical taxiway warning lights." AOPA said LAX did get $15 million for a new firehall. Although the CBS story is undoubtedly factual, the tone suggests the money was wasted in the face of dire safety deficiencies at commercial airports, while ignoring the benefits local airports bring to their communities.
AOPA says Joe Ebert, president of Williamson Flying Club in upstate New York, spoke with the CBS reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, and tried to explain the benefits of GA, but his role in the story was relegated to that of a proud president showing off the $400,000 repaving of the runway "paid for by your tax dollars," as the story is cast. AOPA says it tried to get interviewed by CBS for balance but they went with Department of Transportation Sasha Johnson, who said safety and security concerns topped the criteria for issuing the grants.