More on the Michelle Obama 'Close Call' That Wasn't

Taiwan's challenger to the Onion, Next Media Animation, has a solution to the problem of U.S. air traffic controllers dozing off because of overnight work shifts. Just outsource the jobs to China, as with so many other jobs! One of the advantages is listed in the subtitle below.


NMA also has an artistic recreation of the "dangerously close" "near-miss" of the First Lady's plane with an Air Force tanker. Their version does a better job of rendering the Air Force C-17 than the modified Boeing 737 that carried Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden, but it's more or less the scene you would imagine from headlines about a "near-miss":


Full NMA video after the jump.

As to whether I was alone or a crank in viewing the Washington Post's front-page coverage of this episode as scare-mongering -- well, OK, I'm a crank about many things, but I have company in my views this time. The Atlantic's own (Guest Blogger division) Don Brown links to our site but to another more splenetic reaction; Paul Bertorelli, the editorial director of AVweb, concurs; and most of the comments on the AVweb site, from pilots and controllers, are in the spirit of this one: "Horrors! Next we'll hear that the First Lady's motorcade had to stop for a red light; like the rest of us."

Why bother to bring it up again? The real reason is that I love this NMA clip. But there's a larger journalistic purpose: If the "mainstream" press gets us all worked up about things we don't need to be worried about, what's left over for cases that pose a genuine threat? Maybe NMA's next project can be "the boy who cried Wolf."
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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