NBC News Pays for David and Sean Goldman Charter Flight to U.S.

By Chris Ariens 

NBC News has paid for a chartered flight from Brazil to the United States carrying David Goldman and his 9-year-old son, Sean. David Goldman has been fighting for 5 years to get custody of his son who was taken to Brazil by his mother in 2004.

In addition to David and Sean Goldman, NBC News correspondent Jeff Rossen is also on board. Rossen flew to Brazil, commercially, earlier this week as the story was heading toward a climax.

In a one-line statement, NBC News spokesperson Lauren Kapp tells TVNewser, “The Goldmans were invited on a jet NBC News chartered to fly home to the US.”

With tomorrow being Christmas, any exclusive video and interviews will most likely be held for the “Today” show on Monday. This also gives NBC an opportunity to promote the story throughout the weekend. NBC News has been covering the custody battle for nearly a year when David Goldman first appeared on Dateline on Jan. 30.

It’s not uncommon for networks to pay for the flights and hotel stays of guests when they appear in studio in New York, but this will once again, raise questions about networks paying for news, especially an emotionally charged story centered on a 9-year-old boy.

The 10-hour flight left Rio this morning about 3 hours after David and Sean were reunited at the U.S. consulate amid a scrum of television and still photographers. [A network insider tells us this could have been avoided by using the back entrance to the consulate.]

TVNewser reached out to a charter company to see how much a flight from Rio de Janeiro to New York would cost. A “heavy jet” which could carry 7-8 people on short notice would run between $50,000 to $70,000.

The Gulfstream G-IV NBC News chartered is registered to a Manhattan-based LLC.

• Click continued to see the “Today” show clip from outside the consulate this morning…

Update: Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) who had been with David Goldman awaiting the reunion, said he was unable to travel with the two on the flight because the plane had been chartered by NBC and therefore he was prohibited from doing so under congressional rules.

Update: The flight landed in Orlando around 6pmET, in time for Rossen to front a live shot from airport for “Nightly News” which included an on board interview with David Goldman. In his story, Rossen said, “The Goldmans were invited on a jet NBC News chartered to fly back to the U.S.”

(AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy