Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Are They Really This Stupid? Air Force One's Not So Excellent Day Out

Air Force One's dramatic and fright-inspiring flyover of Manhattan yesterday was supposed to be for "publicity purposes," according to The New York Times.

It worked.

Follow-up stories today will probably reveal that officials kept the flyover a secret from the public -- in fact, even from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- so that the airplane wouldn't become a target. I can't imagine why else they would insist on such secrecy, but I have to ask, "A target for what?" The bad guys aren't interested in taking down an empty plane -- where's the drama in that? They like their airplanes full of innocent people.

I realize that many non-New Yorkers, particularly those incapable of empathy, have no sense of the terror and trauma caused by the September 11, 2001, attacks. For some, if you haven't lived through it yourself, you can't imagine what it must have been like. But does this describe the D.C. people who told the NYC officials they couldn't notify the public of this highly unusual and exceptionally dramatic flyover? D.C. experienced its fair share of trauma on September 11 so we should be able to expect them to "get it" more than we could from knuckleheads in any other part of the country.

This is yet another reminder -- you've read them here before and I'll keep posting them -- of the importance of communicating with all constituents or stakeholders. There is no excuse for traumatizing New York City's residents and workers. If you can't let them know in advance, then don't stage the photo opportunity. The backlash generated by the buzz just isn't worth the photos.


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