Tuesday, April 23

Air Force One experiencing ‘rampant thievery’ from White House reporters traveling with president: Politico

A Politico report this week alleged petty theft happening on Air Force One as many White House correspondents often try to sneak themselves souvenirs from the president’s personal airplane. 

The piece, featured in Thursday’s edition of Politico’s “West Wing Playbook,” detailed how reporters traveling with the president often take items from the plane. It mentioned that many of them do it, so they can have a piece of presidential memorabilia to show off to their friends and colleagues.

“For years, scores of journalists — and others — have quietly stuffed everything from engraved whiskey tumblers to wine glasses to pretty much anything with the Air Force One insignia on it into their bag before stepping off the plane,” the piece stated, describing the practice as “rampant thievery.” 

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The practice “has become shockingly common,” the article disclosed, so much so that White House Correspondents’ Association president and NBC correspondent Kelly O’Donnell emailed members of the WH press corps telling them to knock it off. 

Several members of the WHCA confirmed with the outlet that this off-the-record email was real.

One reporter told Politico how another White House correspondent encouraged them to take stuff during their first flight on the famous aircraft, saying, “On my first flight, the person next to me was like, ‘You should take that glass.’ They were like: ‘Everyone does it.’”

The outlet said that “stories spilled forth” from former and current White House reporters who were asked about the stealing. One mentioned that the thievery wasn’t confined to just reporters, but lawmakers traveling with the commander-in-chief took stuff from the plane too.

“There’s one about the senator in the front of the plane who — as a chatty aide told reporters — was taking everything not bolted down.”

“Several colleagues of one former White House correspondent for a major newspaper described them hosting a dinner party where all the food was served on gold-rimmed Air Force One plates, evidently taken bit by bit over the course of some time,” Politico also wrote.

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It added how reporters “recalled coming down the back stairs after returning to Joint Base Andrews in the evening with the sounds of clinking glassware or porcelain plates in their backpacks.”

However, the Air Force One crew seems to be paying attention to the missing items now. Politico stated that O’Donnell’s warning came after plane’s crew “inventoried items following the trip and notified the White House Travel Office on Feb. 5 that several were missing from the press cabin.”

Then, the former director of press advance Brie Moore mentioned the missing items to the press office in an email, offering those who had items from the plane a way to “facilitate a quiet return,” one of the reporters confirmed. 

“One individual who received the email had, in fact, gotten off the plane with an Air Force One embroidered pillowcase, and probably not by accident. When they wrote back admitting as much, arrangements were made for a discreet return,” Politico wrote.

White House officials said they’re not trying to embarrass reporters, but stressed that “the thefts need to stop,” the piece stated after speaking with them. One former White House official clarified that the incidents haven’t added up to “a massive amount of theft. It was just a petty, chronic grift.” Still, they added they “appreciated that Kelly O took it seriously and sent that note.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the White House for comment and to NBC News for comment about Kelly O’Donnell. 

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