TPM recently called out dozens of media outlets for continuing an unsubstantiated story that Umar Abdulmutallab–the man who allegedly tried to blow up Flight 253 in Detroit–was traveling on a one-way ticket from Nigeria to the United States.
According to TPM, the “one-way ticket” story has been “referenced repeatedly by commentators attacking the U.S. government for missing red flags about Abdulmutallab,” (like this Michael Gerson column in the Jan. 6 Washington Post and this Michael Mukasey Wall Street Journal piece) even though “the Nigerian government said Dec. 28 that Abdulmutallab had a round-trip ticket, and provided details to back it up.”
Trying to trace the unsupported statement, TPM writes,
The first citation of a “one-way ticket” we could find is a report on Christmas day by MSNBC (cached version here): “Federal officials identified the man as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, of Nigeria, who was traveling one way, without a return ticket.”
Another early reference is in the Dec. 26 edition of the New York Daily News: “Officials said Abdulmutallab was traveling one way, without a return ticket.”
According to TPM, the only substantiated reference they could find to a one-way ticket is in a January 11 Wall Street Journal story that describes Abdulmutallab buying a one-way ticket from Ghana to Nigeria in addition to the two-way ticket he bought from Lagos, Nigeria to Detroit via Amsterdam.
Though the New York Times published a correction of their earlier report mentioning a one-way ticket, TPM says many others have not. New stories are also appearing describing a one-way ticket. An AP story contained the mistake, as did a piece in the Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek on January 6.
Read the TPM post in full here.