The article "TSA Agents Respond To Pat-Down Anger (PHOTOS, POLL)" originally appeared Nov. 22, 2010. Written by travel editor Kate Auletta, the article requoted 17 supposed TSA agents who Frischling claimed on his blog he had interviewed.
The article now reads: "Editor's Note: We have removed the quotes following questions about the veracity of the source who claims to have collected them."
The Nov. 18 blog entry ("TSA Enhanced Pat Downs : The Screeners Point Of View") brought Steven a lot of attention because of the sensationalist comments from the supposed TSA agents, who are, conveniently, anonymous.
Frischling assumed he would get away with using anonymous sources forever. This is win-win for him. Not only can he make these sources say whatever he wants, it's impossible for anyone to verify their existence. But the dramatic quotes just scream "Steven wrote this" all over them. Not only are they ALL written in the same EXACT linguistic style, they just don't seem... authentic. Here are a few - what do you think?
"Molester, pervert, disgusting, an embarrassment, creep. These are all words I have heard today at work describing me, said in my presence as I patted passengers down. These comments are painful and demoralizing, one day is bad enough, but I have to come back tomorrow, the next day and the day after that to keep hearing these comments. If something doesn't change in the next two weeks I don't know how much longer I can withstand this taunting. I go home and I cry. I am serving my country, I should not have to go home and cry after a day of honorably serving my country."
|Idiot blogger Steven Frischling: U.S. soldier's feelings critically wounded by mean comments from airline passengers!|
"Do people know what a Nazi is? One can't describe me as a Nazi because I am following a security procedure of designed to find prohibited items on a passenger's body. A Nazi is someone with hatred and ignorance in their hearts, a person who carried out actions of execution and extermination of those based on their religion, origins or sexual preferences. I work to make travel safer, even if I do not agree with the current security procedures. Further more, I am Jewish and a TSA Transportation Security Officer, an American Patriot and to call me a Nazi is an offense beyond all other offenses."
"Yesterday a passenger told me to keep my hands off his penis or he'd scream. Is this how a 40 year old man in business attire acts? He'll scream? My 3 year old can get away with saying he'll scream, but a 40 something business man? I am a professional doing my job, whether I agree with this current policy or not, I am doing my job. I do not want to be here all day touching penises."
"Being a TSO means often being verbally abused, you let the comments roll off and check the next person, however when a woman refuses the scanner then comes to me and tells me that she feels like I am molesting her, that is beyond verbal abuse. I asked the woman if she thought I like touching other women all day and she told me that I probably did or I wouldn't be with the TSA. I just want to tell these people that I feel disgusted feeling other peoples private parts, but I cannot because I am a professional."
"I was asked by some guy if I got excited touching scrotums at the airport and if it gave me a power thrill. I felt like vomiting when he asked that. This is not a turn on for me to touch me it is in fact a huge turn off. There is a big difference between how I pat passengers down and a molester molesting people."
It's unknown if The Huffington Post took down the article only temporarily while its editors try to verify any of these sources exist. This would easily be possible. Steven could share the emails with them, and they could verify the different IP addresses and that the email addresses were genuine (and not all from free mail services like Yahoo, Gmail, etc). Or, if he claims he interviewed them over the phone (which seems far-fetched, as the language reflects written English instead of spoken English), he could share his tapes with them. This would not be the same as "outing" a confidential source, but is standard journalistic practice. (If Steven worked for a legitimate publication and cited anonymous sources, he would have to do the same thing with his editor.)
More likely, the Huffington Post realized it been had and the article is gone for good. Thank you.
Dec. 7 Update: The Huffington Post travel editor contacted Steven Frischling to ask if she could independently verify the quotes, and he refused, despite an earlier statement he had no problem with anyone verifying them. Click for more info.