In a February 7 report on the uproar surrounding the issue of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) access to a military airplane that can fly nonstop to her home district in California, the CBS Evening News aired a clip of House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) suggesting that Pelosi may use the plane as an "incredible fundraising tool." In fact, Pelosi's staff has explicitly stated she "will not use the plane for political travel."
The report, by CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, concerned the controversy surrounding whether Pelosi will be able to travel between Washington and her home district in San Francisco on a military aircraft that can make the cross-country trip without stopping to refuel. Congressional Republicans have baselessly accused Pelosi of specifically requesting access to a C-32 aircraft -- a military version of the Boeing 757 which features numerous amenities not included on the smaller plane previously used by former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) in his trips to his home district in Illinois.
In her report, Attkisson aired a clip of Blunt suggesting that Pelosi might use the more luxurious C-32 for fundraising purposes:
BLUNT: If you can say to your supporters, do you want to fly with me from San Francisco this week, spend the week in New York and then fly with me back, that's an incredible perk. It's an incredible fundraising tool.
After she aired Blunt's statement, Attkison reported that "Pelosi's office told us she'll follow all the appropriate guidelines." But at no point in the report did Attkisson note that Pelosi's staff has reportedly specifically stated she will not use the military aircraft for political travel, as The Washington Post reported in a February 6 article:
Yesterday, the House sergeant-at-arms issued a statement saying that the leadership is awaiting word from the Air Force on the rules for using the plane. It is unclear, for example, who can travel with Pelosi and whether she can return home from a political event on the taxpayer-funded plane.
Brendan Daley, a spokesman for Pelosi, said that she will not use the plane for political travel.
From the February 7 edition of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:
ATTKISSON: Ever since 9-11, a small military jet like this has been made available to transport the speaker of the House for security reasons. The speaker is second in the line of succession to the presidency. Back then, it was Republican Dennis Hastert.
Now it's Democrat Nancy Pelosi, but she may be getting a little more legroom. Speaker Pelosi is reportedly asking for a much bigger jet, a government version of the Boeing 757 that can make the trip between Washington and her San Francisco home without stopping to refuel.
The speaker's critics have dubbed it "Pelosi One." Military officials are said to be grumbling about it, and the speaker finds herself on the defensive. Today, she insisted size doesn't really matter.
PELOSI: It's not a question of size, it's a question of distance. We want an aircraft that can reach California.
ATTKISSON: But an aircraft like that can comfortably seat 50, and Republican leader Roy Blunt is among those questioning how all those extra seats might get filled.
BLUNT: You know, if you can say to your supporters, "Do you want to fly with me from San Francisco this week, spend the week in New York, and then fly with me back," that's an incredible perk. It's an incredible fundraising tool.
ATTKISSON: Pelosi's office told us she'll follow all the appropriate guidelines. The problem is, there aren't any yet. Because of the flak, the Defense Department is now said to be quickly writing rules for the speaker's plane, everything from size to who can go along for the ride.