Reporting Lies, Denying the Truth

Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption

I read Scapegoat, a detailed account of a TWA flight that came within seconds of killing 89 people. It interested me as I follow the TV program, Mayday, which meticulously describes the effort required to determine the cause of each airplane crash. I find it fascinating. In reading Scapegoat, I was appalled at how an investigation can go horribly wrong when the authorities are anxious to hide the truth. And, how willing the media are to nurture the lies. The cost of such treachery is unbelievable.

Excerpt: “On April 4, 1979, a Boeing 727 with 82 passengers and a crew of 7 rolled over and plummeted from an altitude of 39,000 feet to within seconds of crashing were it not for the crew’s actions to save the plane. The cause of the unexplained dive was the subject of one of the longest NTSB investigations at that time.”

Simulation of the plunge from 39,000 feet

It was shocking to discover ‘fake news’ is not a modern issue in our media. In fact, in 1979 following the near crash of TWA flight 841, reporters got hold of a piece of information from investigators, took it out of context, and set in motion a disaster of their own making. It destroyed the captain’s reputation and his health. Other deviations from the truth among the investigators continued on a trajectory that delayed in discovering the truth of what caused the aircraft to go out-of-control. It put the lives of thousands of passengers and crew at risk. In the end, it tainted the reputation of the US NTSB as well as the news media.


[According to an affidavit filed with the petition, the same plane that Gibson flew on Flight 841, N840TW, was used in 1977 on a TWA test flight. During the test flight, the affidavit says, the pilot encountered serious problems controlling the aircraft-problems that were similar to what Gibson encountered two years later on Flight 841 before the plane went into its dive. Despite the lengthy safety board investigation and nearly 20 civil suits filed by Flight 841 passengers, information about the test flight was never disclosed by TWA, according to John Rohlfing, a TWA pilot and chairman of the union`s TWA accident investigation committee.

It never occurred to me that they would have tested this very same plane and found similar happenings and not tell us about it,” said Landon Dowdey, a Washington lawyer who represented Gibson during the safety board`s investigation.]

I cannot stress a simple truth enough. When you are making judgments about an event, person, religion, etc, get your information from several sources – several reputable sources. The media is not the place to go for reliable and impartial data. The media is in the business of making money and that’s done by ensuring their hype attracts your attention, so you’ll watch the commercials in between the news items.

Do diligent research, speaking to several knowledgeable authorities. There’s only one news channel that I watch with a comfort level that I’m getting a balanced view of each news story – The National. But, I still do my homework- read books, and talk with people who I trust to be non judgmental and unbiased.