The Associated Press misses the boat on Biden’s airplane travel

This is Air Force One — not a regular trip to the airport

The Associated Press on Thursday advanced a peculiar objection to President Joe Biden’s weekend plans of traveling to Delaware aboard Air Force One and spending time at his home there, writing, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Americans forgo travel as the coronavirus pandemic rages.”

The obvious rebuttal here is that Biden is not simply going to the airport for a commercial flight to a lively Caribbean vacation. He has a narrow circle of Secret Service agents and other personnel and is headed from the White House to his home in Delaware.

The AP acknowledged this in the fifth paragraph of its wire article: “Biden, who flies aboard Air Force One, will avoid many of the risks of travel associated with commercial flights or traveling by bus or train.” The article also mentioned that the CDC recommends that people who want to travel should complete their coronavirus vaccinations and wait two weeks before traveling, noting that Biden got his second dose of the vaccine over three weeks ago.

However, the next morning, Fox News’ website picked up the AP’s line of inquiry Friday morning  and posted an article titled “Biden flying to Delaware despite CDC warnings to avoid travel.” 

The absurdity reached an apex at the White House press briefing in the afternoon, in an exchange between AP White House reporter Zeke Miller and White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

“The guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as you know, in the White House briefing just a couple of hours ago was a big X over airplanes,” Miller said. “People should avoid travel. Is there an exception to that policy?”

“Well, the key, Zeke, is ensuring that people don't take steps to make others vulnerable in our effort to get the pandemic under control,” Psaki responded. “As you know, any president of the United States, Democrat or Republican, obviously takes Air Force One, a private plane, when they travel.”

During the 2020 campaign, Miller’s coverage in the AP freely repeated attacks by then-President Donald Trump that Biden was not holding large campaign rallies, instead “limiting his campaign appearances to virtual events from the basement of his home in Delaware.”

Trump is eager to resume normal campaigning, which has come to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic. His rallies are a hallmark of his Republican campaign and help energize his base and provide his team with crucial data that will be used to turn out supporters in the fall. Biden, meanwhile, is known for connecting more effectively with people in smaller settings and has struggled with large rallies, something Trump would like to highlight.

But now in 2021, Miller finds Biden’s travel in Air Force One to be questionable and potentially unsafe.

People have become all too accustomed to the pattern of bad pitches making their way from Fox News into mainstream media — but this time, a bad take originated with the AP and then got copied by Fox.