On July 3, political blog Must Read Alaska posted a fabricated story claiming that Seattle outdoorswoman Sara Gamache had been removed from an Alaska Airlines flight for wearing a “Trump 2020” mask. According to the article, authored by Must Read Alaska owner Suzanne Downing, “On June 24, Gamache was removed from a flight bound from Seattle to Denver because she boarded the jet wearing a mask with the word ‘Trump 2020’ on it.” Downing claims that she spoke with Gamanche to “confirm her story,” and did not receive a response from Alaska Airlines when she inquired about the incident.
The story enraged followers of Must Read Alaska, who left comments including “I think it’s time we looked to find out if the Alaska Airlines landing permit for all of Alaska could be suspended,” “BOYCOTT AK Air!!!!,” and “I have no words to describe my disgust for AK Airlines except that I will never set foot on one of their planes again.”
In fact, according to Gamache’s own account, published to her website “Expose Alaska Airlines,” Gamache was not removed from the flight because she wore a “Trump 2020” mask. Rather, Gamache acknowledges she was removed from the flight because she first attempted to wear a non-functional mesh mask, and when asked to replace the mask, donned a new one with a Trump 2020 logo and the text “Fuck your Feelings.” According to Alaska Airlines policy, the airline does not allow the “wearing or display of offensive, threatening, or intimidating statements or symbols.”
On July 4, Must Read Alaska followed up by posting a graphic asking readers whether Alaska Airlines should change its name to Seattle Airlines.
Must Read Alaska is no stranger to fabricated stories, and has repeatedly posted false information and conspiracy theories over the last year. In August 2020, the blog posted a conspiracy theory that then-mayor Ethan Berkowitz had given special favors to restaurants he partially owns before enacting dining restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic. The blog has frequently published false information and conspiracy theories related to the 2020 presidential election. And in January 2021, Must Read Alaska published a fabricated story titled “Facebook cancels Assembly member Allard’s page,” which alleged that the social media giant had kicked the conservative Assemblymember off of its network. In fact, as the Alaska Landmine reported in early February, Allard had deleted her own Facebook account.
The Alaska Landmine reached out to Alaska Airlines for comment regarding the June 24 incident with Gamache, but has not received a response.
Update: Following the publication of this article, Must Read Alaska doubled down on its fabricated story. In “Woman who wore Trump mask on jet starts website to ‘expose Alaska Airlines,'” published midday on Friday, Downing falsely claims that Gamache “was kicked of an Alaska Airlines jet on June 24 because of her Trump mask.”