Quick United Ethics Plane Wreck Passenger Addition: The Journalists And Others Smearing Victim David Dao

Which one is David Dao? What is he like? What has he done? IT DOESN’T MATTER…

I had to post this as soon as a comment on the original post mentioned recent revelations about the abused passenger on—and then off–  United Flight 3411 yesterday.

David Dao (that’s his name) will naturally be the object of research by the news media, because he’s now a public figure and they are overwhelmingly scum. However, whatever exposure his past and present receives as a result of his unwelcome celebrity due to a United employee fingering him for no particular reason as a passenger to sacrifice to solve problems of the airline’s own making, none of it has any relevance to the episode. There is no justification for further injuring Dao by invading his privacy. It is a cruel and unethical thing to do. It is unethical journalism, because the details of the doctor’s life do not contribute anything to an understanding of the story and the issues that the conduct of United raises.

Never mind! This is the Paul Newman film “Absence of Malice” crossed with “Airplane”—an innocent bystander is swept up in a controversy, and as a result is embarrassed before the world because journalists never consider the Golden Rule, and seldom care about fairness, decency, compassion or the consequences of what they publish. “The public has a right to know,” they posture. Really? Why does the public have any right to know about Dao, besides what they see on the YouTube videos?

TMZ, a bottom-feeding celebrity site,  first dug up Dao’s history, posting a click-bait headline.  The Courier-Journal, a Kentucky affiliate of USA Today, then piled on with a story about the “doctor with [a] troubled past.’  The New York Daily News,  The New York Post, The Washington Times, The Chicago Sun Times, D.C.’s ABC affiliate  and People Magazine all joined the fun, the game being “Let’s see if we can further embarrass and humiliate this man, because United didn’t do enough already.” People’s expose was titled “Revealed: All About the Doctor Dragged Off Overbooked United Flight — and His Troubled Past.”

Did I mention that the woman whose life is put on the front page in “Absence of Malice” kills herself? (Melinda Dillon received an Oscar nomination for the role.)

What was done to Dao by United is made no better nor could it be regarded as any worse, no matter what he had done before boarding United  3411, by his life history. If he were an escaped Nazi war criminal who had been secretly maintaining a harem of chained 12 year old girls, it wouldn’t change the nature of his mistreatment: all he is and should be to United is a customer, a passenger, and a human being, and that’s it. The same is true if he were a Medal of Honor recipient, the discoverer of a cure for cancer and the proprietor of an institute for disabled orphans.  You must agree with this, or adopt a bizarre principle that a company’s service, kindness and respect should be calibrated according to a customer’s life achievements and deficits.

You want an extra Coke, sir? Tell me, what have you done to deserve it? What? You have a DUI conviction and voted for Donald Trump? Sorry, no way. In fact, give me those pretzels back!

To anticipate the inevitable, I’ll address the Mike Brown comparison now. After Brown was shot, the video of him apparently shop-lifting and battering a store clerk shortly before his death was released by police. This was widely attacked as an effort to smear Brown, and make the victim look like a villain. The release of the video, unlike the negative information being publicized about Dao, was defensible. Brown’s family, the media and the Outrage Machine were hard at work  selling a false narrative to the public in which the police were unambiguous villains. Brown was shown in photographs smiling and graduating from high school; his parents told the press that he was a “gentle giant,” a sweet lad who would never pose a threat to anyone…hence he must have murdered in cold blood. The objective was to find the police guilty before the facts were known. The message was that a Ferguson police officer executed a promising teen because he was black.

The video was released to show that narrative for what it was, pure, race-baiting  hooey. I am not certain it should have been released, but I understand the reasoning by authorities, and the fact that Brown was not an innocent, law abiding victim was relevant, barely, to the questions about his conduct prior to his death.

That is emphatically not the case with Dao. The only information about his past that would be relevant to his treatment would be if he had stolen his ticket. He hadn’t.

I don’t care what Dao did or didn’t do before he was treated like odiferous week-old trash, and neither should you. There was no excuse for what happened to him, and he does not deserve any further embarrassment related to the incident.


Sources: ThinkProgress,  Daily Caller

25 thoughts on “Quick United Ethics Plane Wreck Passenger Addition: The Journalists And Others Smearing Victim David Dao

  1. I had heard there were bad things in his past and then I had heard that they mis-identified him and it was someone else’s history. Regardless, your point is correct and valid.

    • And how many times does *that* have to happen before people wise up? I can’t count the number of times I’ve read about the wrong person being targeted online.

  2. He supposedly had a checkered past so we can drag him out of the plane with our Brownshirt airline security cops. After all, “He had it coming!”

  3. Is it possible that United made some sort of clandestine offer or “donation” to TMZ to dig up and pass along some dirt on their victim? Even if not, agree that such media reporting is irrelevant and unethical to the case involved.

  4. United’s CEO Munoz should just resign immediately. Or the board of directors could call him in and offer him a golden parachute with a strong suggestion that he should clean out his desk.

    • That would be the easy sacrifice the goat thing, but does nothing to address the systemic issue that paying customers are cattle of less importance than off-duty staff. And that the staff is so used to throwing their security over-authority around, that calling police to correct their mistake is justified. The power has gone to their heads.

      The first thing is they need to admit they were wrong, at EVERY level of this screwup.Then take palpable steps to correct and prevent it in the future. That will mean more than waving your lips, which is all they and the wolf-pack want United to have to do.

    • Nah. There’s no reason for the CEO to resign. He’s the one taking the heat, he’s the one that will be invested in fixing this thing that sprung on him. He gets a chance to analyze and propose changes that will have a positive effect. (It’s not like it was him personally doing this.) I’m rather sick of people rolling over and letting their successor deal with things. Adversity and overcoming are qualities that aren’t taught because everyone can just pass the buck. I say he should be forced to ride it out.

      • The only good reason to get rid of a CEO, absent moral turpitude embarrassing the company, is performance and competence.

        Company performance will suffer, but it may not suffer enough for him to go down due only to that.

        But competence? I can say that his handling of the matter under discussion has been stupifyingly inept. For me, that would be more than enough for a vote of no confidence.

  5. Thank you for this, Jack. When I read these earlier today, especially in my home-town paper, I just knew victim-blaming would go into full swing from some.

    The guy was a victim. Even if he’s the most loathsome human being in the world, ethically and professionally, in this case he was the straight-up victim. His prior life means nothing in the context of what happened.

    Thanks again for pointing out what should be obvious to everybody, but is manifestly… well, not.

  6. This case is an excellent refutation of the utopian axiom that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.

    No one can calculate the actual lost benefits of the one. Given we cannot know the true value another places on anything we cannot calculate the total social value gained by idiotic behavior of those claiming that rules demanded compliance to maximize the benefits of his fellow travelers.

    The smear is designed to indoctrinate people that an individual has no rights and all rights are collective rights.

  7. I expect the value of Dr Dao’s lawsuit against United has jumped from $1 million to $10 million. Let’s see how much higher their mishandling of this situation can drive it.

  8. And another effect of smearing this passenger is that others in similar situations will take this possibility (of being smeared) in their decision and therefore possibly more compliant.

  9. I want to point out that because he is a licensed physician in Kentucky, all the information reported about his past as a doctor is a matter of public record. I believe that all of the state licensing boards post the results of disciplinary actions. It did not take high powered investigative reporters to locate this stuff. Anyone with an internet connection can check out any doctor in less than 5 minutes. Not an unreasonable thing to do if you are planning to be treated by that doctor. Unless he provided medical treatment to other passengers, his medical background is of absolutely no relevance to what happened. It was reported because they could, because it would generate more revenue, and because they are major assholes.

  10. This is worse than Rodney King, who, at the very least, was behaving like an idiot by leading the LAPD on a high-speed chase all over town and then acting in a Hulk-like manner before getting kicked, beaten, and tasered. This is Abner Louima territory, arguably even worse because the main tortfeasor here is a private corporation, whose role is to move people to where they are going, not keep public safety. If I were Dao, I would tell United now that the only settlement I would accept is as follows:

    1. United is dissolved.
    2. All assets are sold off.
    3. Every executive from the CEO on down forfeits every penny of compensation from salary, to pension, to stock options to company gas, and agrees never to work in the industry again.

    Otherwise, let’s go to trial.

  11. I have often wondered where the people’s right to know goes during a newspaper writer’s strike. And who elected all of these journalists to speak for the people?

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