The media is publicly shaming the United Airlines victim. That’s not OK.

David Dao United Airlines
Support us and go ad-free

United Airlines was criticised this week for the forceful removal of a passenger. And since then, several media outlets have been accused of releasing information about the victim which falls outside public interest.

The incident

David Dao was asked to give up his seat so that priority airline staff could be seated. When Dao refused, he was forcibly removed and injured. A video of the event was uncomfortable to watch, and went viral all over the world:

Following the incident, United Airlines released multiple statements. The company’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, also sent a letter to his employees which seemed to blame the victim. From said letter:

While the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did, to give you a clearer picture of what transpired, I’ve included below a recap from the preliminary reports filed by our employees.

As you will read, this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help

Digging dirt

Several outlets have since published articles detailing historical information about the victim. If these reports prove to be accurate, then David Dao has a well-documented criminal past. But people have criticised the publication of this information. Because none of what’s been revealed has anything to do with the United Airlines incident. And people are arguing that being physically manhandled does not give the media license to expose a victim’s entire history:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The US concept of what’s in the ‘public interest’ has traditionally been less stringent than in the UK. Although US enforcement of libel laws does seem to have recently hardened. Most noticeably as the site Gawker was sued for $140m after it published a sex tape of Hulk Hogan. This is despite Gawker having routinely published stories which we would consider to be outside of the public interest.

It’s hard to argue that Dao’s past has any relevance to what happened to him, though. It’s also worth putting yourself in his position. To imagine being humiliated and beaten, and then having all of your worst moments brought into the public domain as a result. And if you feel like you wouldn’t want that for yourself, then logically you should be against it happening to others.

NOTE: There is a rumour online that the David Dao on the flight is not the same David Dao with the criminal record. We were not able to verify that at the time of publishing.

Get Involved!

Support The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.

Featured image via Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed