MSNBC News Live host Chris Jansing asserted on February 8, without evidence, that the Republican accusation that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) requested a much larger military aircraft to fly her between her home district and Washington, D.C., than prior Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) had used, "is something that will resonate with the American people" and promised that the network would "talk about this all day long." Less than 35 minutes later, NBC News correspondent Mike Viqueira reported that the "recommendation to Pelosi is that she have a plane that can get her to San Francisco nonstop," but that there is "no evidence" Pelosi had actually requested a "757" or a "C-32" as Republicans have reportedly alleged. Viqueira added that Pelosi said that, if she could not get a nonstop plane, she would "rather fly commercial ... without all the security." But Jansing replied that the story "isn't going to go away" and stated that she had "just got[ten] an email ... from RNC [the Republican National Committee] ... [a]nd the big headline is 'Pelosi's Power Trip.' So, more to come."*
The email Jansing said she received is identical to a news release of the same title posted on the RNC's website that cites such sources as a Washington Times editorial, MSNBC host and self-proclaimed conservative Tucker Carlson, and CNN host Wolf Blitzer asserting that the plane Hastert used would be "capable of flying coast to coast without refueling under optimal conditions."
From the 11 a.m. ET hour of the February 8 edition of MSNBC News Live:
JULIE ROGINSKY (Democratic strategist): This is just typical, [Republican strategist] Brad [Blakeman]. I mean, Tony Snow thinks this is a ridiculous story. You just heard Nancy Pelosi say this is absolutely untrue. You're still spinning the Republican spin machine. It's over. This story has no legs. Even Tony Snow admitted it, and anybody in the Pentagon who's leaking it, I don't know what their motives are for leaking it. I suspect they would not have leaked this if Speaker Hastert or another Republican had done the same thing.
JANSING: Julie, do you really think this story's going to have no legs? I think this is something that will resonate with the American people.
ROGINSKY: I -- I'll be honest with you. I think the American people have much bigger priorities right now, including the war, including the economy, including the lack of health care, than to worry about whether Nancy Pelosi wants a 747 or 727, a Gulfstream, back to San Francisco.
Let's face it, the American people have much bigger priorities right now, and unless the Republicans continue to make a big deal out of this, because they don't want to talk about the issues, the American people won't care. This is a silly story. They care about the issues, not about whichever plane the speaker of the House wants to fly back to San Francisco.
JANSING: Julie, Brad. Thanks to both of you.
ROGINSKY: OK, thank you.
JANSING: We're going to talk about this all day long.
BLAKEMAN: Thank you.
VIQUEIRA: Of course, the Sergeant at Arms is in charge of security in the House, has recommended that Nancy Pelosi have the same privilege that Dennis Hastert before her had and that is military aircraft to take her back and forth to her district. Hastert had a smaller plane. It was a G-3 or a G-5 -- a Gulfstream 3 or a Gulfstream 5 -- that took him to Chicago.
The recommendation to Pelosi is that she have a plane that can get her to San Francisco nonstop. In the universe of those planes is included that 757 or that C-32, but Pelosi -- we have no evidence whatsoever that Pelosi actually asked for that plane. She simply said, "I want a plane that will take me cross-country nonstop" -- and she's backed up by the House Sergeant at Arms on this -- "for security purposes."
Today, she's -- she's backing off of that even. She's saying, "Look, if they can't get me a plane to get me there nonstop, I'll fly commercial. You know what? I'd rather fly commercial with all those -- without all the security. I'd rather get some work done."
And she's also, as you noted very interestingly there, playing the gender card and alleging a political vendetta by remnants of the [former Defense Secretary Donald H.] Rumsfeld regime or Rumsfeld himself, who she says still has a desk over at the Pentagon -- Chris.
JANSING: This isn't going to go away. I just got an email, Mike, from RNC. You know they send out the emails all the time --
JANSING: -- and the big headline is "Pelosi's Power Trip." So, more to come.
VIQUEIRA: Oh, yeah.
JANSING: But once again, great interview, Mike.*
* Correction: This item was originally headlined: "After promising to talk about the Pelosi plane story 'all day long,' Jansing agrees with White House it's 'silly' " and originally included a graph that stated: "But later, during the 2 p.m. ET hour of the show, MSNBC correspondent Jeannie Ohm noted that White House press secretary Tony Snow had said during his morning press briefing that the White House 'feel[s] that this is a silly story that's unfair to the speaker.' Jansing responded: 'I'm with the White House.' " In fact, as a commenter noted, Jansing responded to Ohm's report by saying: "Jeannie Ohm at the White House." Media Matters for America regrets the error.