NYT Reporter Falls for Twitter Joke, Seeks Comment on ‘MAGA Airspace’

A New York Times reporter fell for what most quickly realized was a Twitter joke about sneezing airline workers and “MAGA airspace.” In a quest for comment, the reporter tried to contact the tweet’s creator in hopes of finding out “what happened” on his satirical flight for a news story. The Tweet came after a federal judge struck down Joe Biden’s transportation mask mandate, freeing the faces of rail and air workers and passengers. 

“I boarded a plane today with my son and mid-flight, the pilot announces that the mask mandate is over,” wrote Twitter user Jared Rabel on Monday. “Flight attendants pulled off their masks and sneezed directly into their hands while screaming ‘this is MAGA airspace.’ My son turned to me in tears. I don’t know what to do,” continued the Tweet, seeming to take some inspiration from Jussie Smollett’s infamous hate hoax.

For several hours, after his tweet had garnered thousands of interactions, Rabel kept the joke going. It quickly became apparent that many Twitter liberals weren’t catching on, with some even accusing the imaginary airline of attempted murder. 

“Wow so this blew up, cash app is in the bio for my son’s legal defense fun[d]. We are suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress,” Rabel tweeted.

Wow so this blew up, cash app is in the bio for my son’s legal defense fun. We are suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress

— Jared Rabel (@JradRabel) April 19, 2022

After his MAGA airspace tweet went viral, Rabel was contacted by New York Times reporter Victoria Kim, who had apparently not understood the tweet to be a joke, nor have looked at Rabel’s public Twitter bio describing him as a “libertarian on the old right.”

“Hi Jared, I’m a New York Times reporter, I’d love to speak to you over the phone about what happened on your flight this evening,” Victoria Kim wrote in a request for comment. She then asked Rabel to give her a call and left her phone number in hopes of snatching up the imaginary news story.

“Hello Victoria, I would love to discuss the incident at your earliest convenience,” Rabel replied to Kim, offering her a bit of hope before letting her down and mocking The New York Times.

“Unfortunately it’s satire that only someone at the NYT would believe. In my time of contemplation, I was wondering how your team deals with the multitude of false stories that you peddle out daily to use as political propaganda and if you could give me advice on how to take my satire to the next level? Best wishes.”

Just got messaged by a NYT journalist about my previous tweet. This is what happened. pic.twitter.com/Dr5fHBnLCm

— Jared Rabel (@JradRabel) April 19, 2022

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