Judicial Watch's pearl-clutching “report” on the cost of Michelle Obama's trip to Africa is falling apart pretty quickly.
As I pointed out yesterday, what Judicial Watch tried to paint as a “vacation” was actually an official trip in which the First Lady met with foreign dignitaries and world leaders. She went on a private safari with her children and other family members, but that was paid for by the family. So Judicial Watch had to cherry-pick a few numbers and gloss over important context to gin up some insincere outrage over the fact that the First Lady's travel expenses were paid for with tax dollars. (When Laura Bush traveled to Africa with her kids on the taxpayer dime and went on a private safari, Judicial Watch kept schtum).
Last night, ABC's Jake Tapper spoke to officials at the White House who poked a couple more holes in the Judicial Watch report.
Regarding the $424,000 price tag Judicial Watch calculated for use of the Air Force jet:
“The number stated is misconstrued and out of context,” says a senior White House official. “The hourly rate is not the marginal cost of operating the plane -- it is an accounting figure that prices in a number of fixed costs from maintaining the Air Force fleet for this kind of plane over a year. For example, it includes estimated replacement parts, depreciation, repairs, and costs that would have been incurred regardless of this flight.”
And regarding Judicial Watch's claim that the Obama children were designated “senior staff” for the trip:
“The Obama daughters were not listed as Senior Staff -- that only designates the area of the plane where they were seated,” says the official. “The Air Force categorizes the passengers by compartment on the plane.”
Judicial Watch left out a lot of key information, and what they left in they got wrong. But when you're trying to manufacture anti-Obama narratives under the guise of good-government watchdogging, accuracy isn't really a huge concern.