Did the Southwest pilot who said "Let's go, Brandon" actually say "Let's go, Braves"?

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

I got fooled this morning on this and figured some readers may have stumbled (or will soon stumble) across the same bad information so let’s correct the record here.

It would have been quite a plot twist, though, if the moral panic that gripped the media this weekend turned out to have been based on a reporter having misheard an innocuous remark.

Karen wrote about the Southwest episode yesterday. An AP reporter on board a flight from Houston was working on a story about Biden critics using the phrase “Let’s go, Brandon” as a sly euphemism for “F*** Joe Biden,” a phenomenon which itself began when a reporter misheard something. Lo and behold, as she was sitting there waiting for takeoff, the pilot on her flight allegedly used that same phrase at the end of his pre-flight announcements.

Whereupon she … tried to storm the cockpit or something.

Her claim seemed plausible. Maybe the pilot is a Republican and couldn’t resist a cheeky aside while on the intercom. That’s unprofessional, but not worthy of this overbaked hot take from Document Dan Rather:

This chant perfectly encapsulates the rot and unseriousness of the Republican party – like the smart-alec in the classroom who adds nothing but juvenile taunts and distractions. And let’s be honest, it isn’t just this chant. Go back to the t-shirts sold at Trump rallies in 2016 and what they said about Hillary Clinton, or for that matter the merchandise showcased at Trump rallies today.

The unseemliness of this is so grotesque that I think many in the Washington press seek to ignore it. Or they report on it as a special phenomenon to explain to their readers. But that is to fundamentally misjudge this moment in American history. Immature vulgarity, fueled by bigotry, misogyny, sanctimony, privilege, unseriousness, flippancy, and ignorance, is what is animating the former president, his base, and thus by extension the entire Republican party over which he rules.

That kind of overreaction was par for the course among the liberal commentariat this weekend, as Karen’s post notes. “Is it really possible that these people don’t get they’re being trolled?” Matt Taibbi wondered about the media shirt-rending over the Southwest incident. “Part of the joke of ‘Let’s Go Brandon,’ of course, is that you couldn’t go five minutes during the last administration without hearing someone in pearls or a bowtie screaming ‘F*** Trump!'” It’s juvenile for professional people in professional settings to stoop to “F the president” rhetoric but the sentiment itself, that the head of state is a doofus and in a free country you’re allowed to say so, is a fine American tradition.

Not something that should be shared on an intercom with a captive audience in an era when people acting out on flights has grown more common, perhaps. But also not tantamount to an ISIS war cry, as one especially cringy lefty take yesterday claimed.

This morning brought a curveball, though. Did the pilot really say “Let’s go, Brandon,” as the AP reporter claimed? Or did he say “Let’s go, Braves” in honor of the National League’s representative in the World Series? Watch:

@thatpatriotmom

💀💀💀

♬ original sound – thatpatriotmom

The final word is garbled but it sounds like a single syllable to me. The “A” also sounds like a long “A” as in “Braves,” not a short “A” as in “Brandon.”

Conceivably the AP reporter had “Let’s go, Brandon” on the brain because of the story she was working on and jumped to a false conclusion about what the pilot had said. Bear in mind that the Braves are playing Houston’s team, the Astros, in the World Series and the flight was taking off from Houston. Maybe the pilot is an Atlanta fan who wanted to playfully needle the passengers from Houston a little bit.

Or maybe not. It turns out the audio embedded above has nothing do with the announcement the AP reporter heard. Blame the New York Post for the confusion, as they chose to illustrate a story about what the AP reporter heard with the TikTok clip. But the flight the AP reporter was on happened over the weekend. And the flight where the pilot said “Let’s go, Braves” in the TikTok clip happened weeks earlier:

As far as I know, no audio exists from the flight the AP reporter was on. And if she’s telling the truth that several passengers “gasped” when the pilot said “Let’s go, Brandon” then it probably was “Let’s go, Brandon.” Knowing the meaning of that phrase, I’d be surprised too to hear it suddenly injected into a commercial environment when I wasn’t expecting it.

This short CNN segment is worth watching as circumstantial evidence that the AP reporter’s telling the truth. CNN’s correspondent is an amateur pilot and says he’s heard “F*** Joe Biden” and “Let’s go, Brandon” several times in the last few weeks on the radio channel reserved for private pilot communications. It’s possible that Southwest’s pilot has gotten so used to saying it in those private communications that he didn’t think much about including it at the end of his pre-flight announcement. Oops.