Most citizens know that the Transportation Safety Administration is not the best at keeping Americans feel protected. They regularly underperform in testing, and security experts around the world have referred to the TSA as ‘safety theater,’ more designed to make people FEEL safe (and harassed) than to actually prevent terrorism and other safety issues in American airports and on flights originating in the United States. However, that does not mean that television shows are free to attempt to sneak hoax explosives through their security lines, nor does it mean that news crews should plan to cause a panic for ratings.
However, that’s precisely what a CNBC TV crew did on Thursday at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. Somehow, the TV crew thought that their idea to sneak a ‘fake’ explosive device through security was an intelligent one and not one that would result in their arrest.
Around 3 P.M. on Thursday, January 18, members of a TV crew in the employ of CNBC tried to sneak a ‘fake’ explosive device through security at Newark Liberty International Airport, while the remainder of the crew stayed behind and recorded what happened. The device, hidden in a rolling bag, was found by members of the TSA, resulting in the TSA and police arresting eight people.
An unnamed source said that the arrested TV crew was from the Endemol Shine Group, a production company from the Netherlands, who were in the United States to film a ‘reality’ show called “Staten Island Hustle.” According to those involved in the situation, they wanted to film the response of the TSA when they found the device, as well as filming any panic that the fake device caused in the airport.
The Newark Liberty International Airport is the main airport serving the state of New Jersey and is the third-largest United Airlines hub (Chicago O’Hare and Houston Intercontinental are the other two larger hubs). In 2016, the last year for which data is available, the airport serviced 40,350,000 passengers, or more than 100,000 people every single day.
The Newark Liberty International Airport is also the airport from which, on that fateful 11th of September, United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757, took off. On September 11th of 2001, Flight 93 took off, flew over the Cleveland area, and suddenly made a sharp U-turn. Eventually, it crashed in the southern portion of Pennsylvania when the passengers assaulted the terrorists who had taken control of the plane. However, it is believed that without this brave sacrifice, the plane would have crashed into the Pentagon, which was less than 20 minutes’ flight time away from the crash site.
In other words, the choice of that particular airport for this particular prank was beyond idiotic. The ‘fake’ explosive device consisted of a large piece of PVC pipe, equipped with a series of wires that appeared to stick out of it, attempted to create the impression that it was a pipe bomb. The fake explosive was found, and the crew is likely to be charged with multiple counts.
The counts could include creating a false public alarm, conspiracy, and interference with transportation. There could also be additional charges, and even civil liability, depending on what happened after the fake bomb hoax began.
The idea that someone thought this is a good idea is beyond bizarre, and the Dutch company should have their permits pulled permanently and never be allowed to film in the United States again. It would not be beyond the pale to ship the entire crew back to the Netherlands and to tell Endemol Shine Group that their workers involved in this ‘prank’ are never allowed back in the country.
Airports are not places for ‘hoaxes’ or jokes. The Transportation Safety Administration has a hard enough time actually attempting to catch people sneaking real weaponry or explosives onto a plane, without having to waste time dealing with people who think that it’s a good business idea to attempt to induce a panic. Hopefully, the $13,000 fine associated with the charges that are likely to be brought against the TV crew will remind them that airports are not playgrounds for their stupidity or for filming vapid reality shows in.
Reality TV shows are widely considered to be some of the most mind-numbing television programmings. It seems almost ironic that the creators of those programs would be dumb enough to commit crimes in an AIRPORT.