Lauer's PR Nudge to Nancy: Take Smaller Plane and Smile

Message to Nancy Pelosi: when NBC's Matt Lauer and David Gregory agree that your quest for a big plane is turning into a PR mess, and ABC's Chris Cuomo calls it a case of "jet envy," it's time to fold your wings.

Lauer raised the matter with David Gregory on this morning's "Today": "Let's talk about the size of the plane that Nancy Pelosi has requested from the Pentagon. Depending on the spin you want to believe here, either the Speaker says it's to travel efficiently back to her home district; Republicans are saying it's an abuse of power. Either way, does it just look bad from a PR standpoint?"

View video here.

Gregory agreed: "I think that's the problem. This is a Democratic leader who's promising to clean up Washington. It's worth remembering, post-9/11, the House Speaker gets private air travel by the Air Force to get back to his or her home district. Dennis Hastert went back to Chicago [in the much smaller plane shown here], Nancy Pelosi is going back to San Francisco. She wants the ability to go direct and not have to refuel on the way and have some family members go with her, and none of that is untoward, but the Air Force is saying, the military is saying 'look, we can't guarantee you a 757' which is essentially what she wants, it depends on availability. Republicans are saying 'look, this is more than just efficiency, this is extravagance.'"

That's when Lauer offered unsolicited but no doubt solid advice: "And if you were a PR firm giving guidance to the Speaker, you'd probably say 'take the refueling stop and smile,' right?"

Gregory: "Right, and it's something she's going to have to grapple with in the days to come."

Aside: The flap over Pelosi's plane pales in comparison to the news displayed in the screencap of the 757: due to the heavy lake-effect snows in upstate NY, tonight's bingo at the VFW hall in Fulton has been cancelled :-(

ABC Update: Good Morning America also covered the plane flap, if you will, this morning. Host Chris Cuomo, surprisingly, said: "is this about security, or ego? Sounds like a case of 'jet envy.'" In the course of the report by senior national correspondent Jake Tapper, it emerged that Pelosi is seeking to shift the blame for the request for the larger plane to her security team. Referring to one craft Pelosi might be seeking as "a large, lavish C-32, with a bedroom, conference room and entertainment center," Tapper ran footage of the much more modest plane, pictured in the second screencap, that Denny Hastert used while he was Speaker.

If Pelosi doesn't realize that this kind of coverage on the broadcast networks is hurting her and her party, she is not the ace politician she has been made out to be. Will Hillary's folks be calling to say "Nancy, knock it off"?

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.