The viral video of David Dao being dragged off an overbooked United Airlines plane for not giving up his seat has enraged many. A Twitter-led boycott of United Airlines followed, especially when the CEO, Oscar Munoz, issued a problematic statement. In Munoz’s words, the staff of the airline was thanked for “always going above and beyond” and for adhering to “established protocols.” The only reference to Dao’s horrible experience was Munoz apologizing for having to “re-accommodate a passenger.”
Since then, United Airlines’ stock has plummeted and now the company is in the middle of doing damage control. On Wednesday, Munoz reworded his previous statements, now calling the treatment of Dao, a paying customer, “truly horrific.” He insisted the employees are being advised to help “fix what’s broken so this never happens again.”
Luckily, social media and much of the public was able to put the spotlight on some of the institutions that contributed to Dao’s horrendous treatment. If it was left up to some media outlets, only Dao would be the recipient of criticism. The Daily Mail put up the headline “Doctor dragged off United flight was felon who traded prescription drugs for secret gay sex with patient half his age and took them himself — and he needed anger management, was ‘not forthright’ and had control issues, psychiatrist found.” Other reports included “Doctor dragged off flight was convicted of trading drugs for sex” from The New York Post, and “United Airlines doctor’s dark past revealed: trafficked drugs for ‘sexual favors’” from Hollywood Life.
These outlets are referring to a past conviction where Dao’s medical license was allegedly suspended because he was giving a former employee prescription drugs in exchange for sex. However, now it’s possible even these reports are inaccurate because the man with the criminal record, David Anh Duy Dao, might be entirely different from the man dragged off the United Airlines flight, David Thanh Duc Dao.
There was no immediate digging up of records for the Chicago officer’s who dragged Dao off the plan. No investigative journalism of the airline employees and how they’ve treated customers in the past. Many outlets have gone right to Dao’s past, as if to make it relevant to the violent encounter he experienced, which it’s not.
Dao’s family lawyer said his relatives and him are “focused only on Dr. Dao’s medical care and treatment,” according to New York Daily News. However, it is more than likely a lawsuit will be filed.