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July 21, 2009
After CBS News aired its “Follow the Money” story about federal stimulus money being spent on general aviation airports, AOPA weighed its response options and decided to take its concerns to the highest levels at CBS News. In a letter to the most senior managers at CBS News and the CBS Evening News, AOPA Executive Vice President of Communications Karen Gebhart pointed out several of the inaccuracies in the CBS story.
In the letter, Gebhart pointed out factual errors and errors of omission. Regarding, for instance, a taxiway safety lighting system at Los Angeles International Airport for which the report indicated the airport had not gotten federal funding, Gebhart noted that the system is installed and operational, funded entirely with local funds. She also pointed out that the CBS report failed to mention the $727 million that air carrier airports had received in stimulus funding, compared to the $306 million that went to GA airports.
AOPA was not the only organization to raise concerns about the CBS story. The Anchorage Press newspaper ran a lengthy column on why the small town of Ouzinkie, one of the airports cited in by CBS, needs to maintain a safe airport. And the WUSA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C., did some researching of its own and found that each of the three air carrier airports in the Baltimore-Washington area had received $15 million in stimulus funding.
AOPA’s letter concluded by saying that while CBS News is capable of providing great depth to its audience, with this story it had left the public with an inaccurate picture of GA.
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