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According to the Air Force One documents released through the Freedom of Information Act, a unit called the Combat Information Cell at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida monitored the public fallout from the April 27 flight and offered recommendations for dealing with the fast-breaking story.
The mission quickly became a public relations disaster as panicked New Yorkers, fearing another 9/11-style attack, emptied office buildings.
The Combat Information Cell's first assessment of the event said "Web site blog comments 'furious' at best." Local reporting of the flyover was "very critical, highlighting scare factor," it added.
A Twitter search revealed a rate of one "tweet" per minute about a pair of F-16s chasing a commercial airliner. A tweet is a text message of up to 140 characters delivered to the author's subscribers, who are known as followers.
Media coverage over the next 24 hours "will focus on local hysteria and lack of public notification," the cell predicted. "Blogs will continue to be overwhelmingly negative."
"Damage control requires timely counter-information," but the opportunity for that had passed, the assessment said. The cell recommended acknowledging the mistake and ensuring it didn't happen again.
Another update on April 28 said the story was still "reverberating, surprisingly resilient." The tweet rate had grown to three per minute and the words "New York" had been pushed into Twitter's high-frequency topic category. Videos of the event posted on YouTube had been viewed more than 260,000 times, it said.
By April 30, the story had faded, the cell reported. The blogs were still very critical, but it was the White House, not the Air Force, that was taking the heat, the assessment for that day said.