Sticky-fingered White House reporters warned to stop pocketing items from Air Force One

NEWS: Sticky-fingered White House reporters warned to stop pocketing items from Air Force One



Some White House reporters have apparently been swiping everything from pillowcases to plates and glasses from Air Force One to keep as souvenirs, prompting their professional organization to warn them to knock it off.

In an off-the-record email sent to members of the White House Correspondents’ Association last month, the elite journalists were scolded for pilfering a variety of items emblazoned with the logo of President Biden’s official aircraft.

Journalists aboard Air Force One have reportedly swiped all kinds of souvenirs over the years, including everything from pillowcases and towels to cutlery and engraved whisky tumblers. REUTERS

The association, headed up by NBC News Senior White House Correspondent and veteran journo Kelly O’Donnell, warned the scribes that removing such items from the presidential jet was verboten and reflected poorly on the press pool as a whole, the BBC said.

The White House has long doled out small boxes of M&Ms candies featuring the presidential seal to reporters in tow on Air Force One — perhaps partly in a bid to stave off the writers’ urge to pocket an unauthorized souvenir.

Presidents have given reporters aboard Air Force One official boxes of M&Ms candies since 1988, a tradition started by President Reagan to replace cigarette packs, which were the default giveaway item for decades.

The tradition started in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan, replacing packs of cigarettes bearing the presidential seal that had been the standard giveaway for decades.

But the sweet treats seem to not have been enough for some reporters, who over the years have allegedly swiped a presidential garage sale worth of items ranging from towels to cutlery to engraved whisky tumblers and wine glasses, Politico said.

O’Donnell’s warning to colleagues followed a recent West Coast jaunt on Air Force One, after which crew members took on-board inventory and noted that a number of items that had been in the press cabin had gone missing.

Reporters aboard Air Force One are tempted with a wide array of highly pocketable items, such as this deck of official Air Force One playing cards. Getty Images

But the tone of the association’s email wasn’t accusatory and was phrased more like it was offering a no-harm, no-foul reprieve if the missing items were returned, the outlet said, citing four individuals who received the missive.

One of the reporters who got the email later admitted to exiting the aircraft with an official Air Force One pillowcase, which was quietly returned.

Politico described the discreet exchange where the light-fingered reporter met a White House staffer in Lafayette Square by the statue of Andrew Jackson in DC and passed off the looted linen.

Air Force One is a Boeing 747-200B with 4,000 square feet of internal space. Andrew Roth/Shutterstock

Air Force One has been the official call sign for the president of the United States’ plane since 1953. Since 1990, the presidential fleet has included two Boeing 747-200B aircraft equipped with a dizzying array of features, many of them classified.

Air Force One includes 4,000 square feet of internal space and holds up to 70 passengers and 26 crew, according to the White House. It includes a pair of food prep galleys that can serve up to 100 people and a complete medical station complete with operating table.

The military-grade aircraft is built to withstand the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear blast and can be refueled while in flight.



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