Air Force One Souvenirs: A Troubling Trend Among Journalists

By Victor Winston, updated on March 30, 2024

The integrity of White House journalists is under scrutiny. Specifically, recent incidents on Air Force One have put the administration under even more scrutiny.

According to Breitbart, journalists aboard Air Force One during President Joe Biden’s administration have reportedly made a habit of taking insignia items, raising questions about their professionalism.

In an era where trust in the media is waning, reports have emerged that journalists linked with the Biden White House press corps have been pilfering various items branded with the Air Force One insignia. Kelly O’Donnell, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, found it necessary to issue a firm reminder to the press corps that these actions are against the rules, though her warning seemingly fell on deaf ears with no immediate responses received.

The items taken span from wine glasses and tumblers to more conspicuous thefts including gold-rimmed plates and an embroidered pillowcase. This dubious tradition is not new; it has been encouraged discreetly among new reporters for years, supposedly as a rite of passage.

Tradition or Theft: The Fine Line Crossed on Air Force One

In the communal air of Air Force One, a sense of entitlement seems to have developed, leading to what has been dubbed as "extensive looting." This issue did not just stay within journalist circles; tales of senators partaking in similar behavior have also surfaced, highlighting a widespread disregard for ethical boundaries among those privileged enough to fly with the President.

White House officials, alarmed by these reports, have exerted pressure on Kelly O’Donnell to reinforce respect for these protocols and curb any future thefts. An email circulated, somewhat desperately, asking reporters to return any items they may have "accidentally" taken. It resulted in at least one journalist returning a pilfered pillowcase, a minor victory in the greater battle for decorum.

This pattern of behavior has contributed significantly to the deteriorating trust between the public and the press. Confidence in the media’s ability to report news “in a full, fair, and accurate way” has plummeted, with recent surveys by Gallup highlighting that a substantial portion of Americans believe that the media purposely misleads and misinforms.

Rebuilding Trust: A Challenge for the Media and Politicians Alike

For years, many journalists and even some politicians have quietly pocketed everything from engraved whiskey tumblers to wine glasses bearing the Air Force One insignia. A casual acceptance of this practice has permeated, with veterans often nudging newcomers toward this questionable tradition.

“On my first flight, the person next to me was like, ‘You should take that glass.’ They were like: ‘Everyone does it.’ And stories about politicians engaging in even bolder acts of pilfering have not helped matters.”

This whole affair highlights an uncomfortable truth: when the messengers of news partake in questionable ethics, it paints the entire industry with the same brush. A Gallup study found that 50% of Americans believe that national media outlets intentionally mislead. This skepticism is further exacerbated by incidents that appear trivial but reveal a deeper issue of integrity and trustworthiness.


The actions of a few journalists aboard Air Force One have cast a shadow over the entire media landscape, contributing to an already growing distrust in the press.

While the return of a single stolen pillowcase is barely a step toward redemption, it signals a necessary shift toward accountability.

Journalists and those in positions of power alike must lead by example, restoring faith in both the media and the democratic processes that rely on its integrity.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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