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January 04, 2010 5:49 pm ET

The following email has been widely forwarded.  Media Matters Action Network has written a response to the text below.  Please feel free to copy and paste it and send to your friends.


[note - all mistakes below are original to the text]


Wow.  This email is really unbelievable.

There have been a lot of negative comments about the media lately - but this incident, if true, would be a widely covered story.  And, if it was true, passengers other than this Tedd Petruna would have been telling their story to reporters and not just writing it up in some dubious email.

Here is some proof that this email is giant pile of horse manure.

The (ahem, media outlet) Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an article about the incident fabricated by Mr. Tedd Petruna:

An AirTran spokesman said a man traveling with a group Tuesday afternoon refused to turn his cell phone off before takeoff. But the woman sitting behind the man said it wasn't a phone at all, and feels the entire incident was the result of poor communication.

"He was not talking on a cell phone, it was a camera," said Nancy Deveikis of Marietta. "He was looking at pictures."

A flight attendant asked the man twice to turn off the device, Deveikis said. But it was clear the man did not speak English, she said. Although the man was traveling with others, the rest of the group was seated throughout the plane.

When the man did not respond to the flight attendant, she took the camera from him, Deveikis said. Deveikis, who presented with her boarding pass for the flight, said she watched the exchange from directly behind the man in seat 28A and the female flight attendant.

"She grabbed it from his hand and basically said I'll be holding this until you get off the plane," Deveikis said...

Houston-bound Flight 297 was scheduled to leave Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday. But the pilot decided to return the plane back to the gate, and the man and the group he was traveling with were asked to exit the plane.

Another person in the group - someone who could speak English - got off as well to act as an interpreter, White said.

And as for that nonsense about Petruna refusing to continue on the flight, signing a statement to officials, and getting so many passengers to leave the plane that the flight was cancelled?  Yeah, not so much:

AirTran gave the 72 other passengers on the plane the option to stay on that flight or switch to another one without paying any fees, White said. Of the remaining passengers on the plane, 12 decided to take another flight...

Deveikis, who often flies to Houston for business, chose to remain on the flight. She said the man with the camera and his entire group reboarded the plane. The whole incident, which scared other passengers who weren't clear what was happening, could have easily been avoided.

"Just one flight attendant snowed everyone into believing she had an irate passenger," Deveikis said.

If you'd like to read the whole article, you can do so at this link:

Do you need further evidence that the author of this deceitful, (frankly) racist email that is meant to incite hatred and fear in his readers is full of baloney?  Here is AirTran's statement:

After conducting additional research into this situation, we have verified, according to flight manifests (legally binding documents) that the individual that allegedly created a first-hand account of events on-board AirTran Airways flight 297, a Theodore Petruna, was never actually on-board the flight.

According to all available records, Mr. Petruna's trip originated from Akron-Canton, Ohio (CAK) on AirTran flight 205. This flight arrived at the gate in Atlanta at 5:06 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Flight 297, the flight which Mr. Petruna allegedly wrote a first-hand account of, originally pushed back from its gate in Atlanta at 4:40 p.m. EST, a full 26 minutes before flight 205 arrived at the gate in Atlanta making this flight connection impossible.

While Mr. Petruna was originally scheduled to begin his journey on AirTran flight 202 from CAK and connect to flight 297 in Atlanta he did not make that original flight.

The full statement is here:

So, in summary, Petruna lied about nearly everything that happened on the flight - not to mention the fact that he lied about ever even being on the flight in the first place.  What would motivate someone to do something like that?  It's truly disgusting.

Look - I know that some of what has been going on in the air is scary.  The near-miss at Christmas is a perfect example.  But those incidents are not an excuse to make up stories to portray everyone of a certain faith and background as crazy terrorists.  Would you want all Christians to be categorized with those few who viciously burned people at the stake for not keeping their eyes on the Host during Mass?  I don't think so.

If we're ever going to effectively counter terrorism, we need to start by using facts.


Posted in - Viral Email