About That Low-Flying Plane “Photo-Op”

From the (print only) New York Times today, byline A.G. Sulzberger and Matthew L. Wald:

Neither the White House nor the F.A.A. explained why the mission was deemed a secret, even though officials conceded the primary purpose was picture taking. Other images of [Air Force One ], taken at picturesque sites like Mount Rushmore, are sold as souvenirs and used in promotional materials.

Did the White House or F.A.A. explain— did Sulzberger or Wald or any reporter ask them to — why this near-exact image couldn’t have been generated on a computer for, presumably, a percentage of the cost (plus: no public trauma!) Also, if officials described the “primary purpose” as “picture taking,” was there a secondary purpose?

A look at how New York City papers handled the news today (only the Wall Street Journal ran it below the fold):

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.