Netizens have risen in defence of the Vietnamese-American doctor who was dragged off an United Airlines flight, following reports about his 'troubled past'.
Two days after footage emerged of 69-year-old Dr David Dao being forced off a flight on Sunday (April 9), the New York Post reported that Dr Dao had been convicted of trading prescription drugs for sexual favours in 2003.
Lousiville news outlet The Courier-Journal also reported that Dr Dao was convicted of multiple felony counts of obtaining drugs by fraud or deceit in 2004, and was suspended from practicing medicine in 2005.
Netizens responded with outrage to the reports, with many pointing out that Dr Dao's history had nothing to do with the way with which he was treated on the flight.
@courierjournal His background has nothing to do with the way he was treated on the airline.— Public opinion (@dntfolome) April 12, 2017
yall really using the past of david dao to justify what happened on the united airplane? yall really bout that victim blaming life?— sarah (@shoyoKoko) April 12, 2017
@courierjournal Shame on you for not defending Dr David Dao's right to be in that United flight. His history is not the issue.— Susan PJain (@spjain88) April 12, 2017
Others questioned the news agencies' intent and purpose in reporting on Dr Dao's past, and wondered if it was yet another example of an increasingly extensive 'victim-blaming' culture.
@courierjournal Is this a case of smear the victim?— JARED-PCA NOW (@SpeckledTiger) April 12, 2017
The media's about to do Dr. David Dao like they do every innocent Black man who were victims of the police.— Linwood Storm (@ElectronicJack) April 12, 2017
i love seeing how reporters are trying to expose david dao for this and that as if trying to imply that he deserved that kind of treatment— ♡ ebi ♡ (@HELLOHONEBI) April 12, 2017
Honestly do not understand why news reporters are dishing out dirt on David Dao??? What's that gotta do with what @united did yesterday?!— ange (@angelicdao) April 12, 2017
Some netizens also said that it could possibly be a smear campaign, as there was a discrepancy between Dr Dao's name on the flight passenger list - David Thanh Duc Dao - and the Dr Dao who was named on the court documents - David Anh Duy Dao.
For those who are following the #UnitedAirlines airline case, the doctor's name is David Thanh Duc Dao, MD.— Timothy Tan (@Wolf_InTheWilds) April 11, 2017
Following public backlash, United Airlines issued an official apology for the incident and promised a thorough review of the airline's practices.
US federal rules dictate that a carrier must first check whether any passenger is willing to voluntarily give up a seat before bumping anybody off, reported CNBC. Compensation is offered to passengers who are bumped off involuntarily.
Due to the "contract of carriage" that is agreed to upon ticket purchase, the airline also reserves the right to bump any passenger off the plane, and the passenger is obliged to comply. It is hence legal for the airline to call in law enforcement if a passenger fails to comply with the flight crew's request, Mashable reported.
Reuters earlier reported that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) said it was reviewing whether United complied with overbook rules that require airlines to set guidelines on how passengers are denied boarding if they do not volunteer to give up their seats.
"While it is legal for airlines to involuntarily bump passengers from an oversold flight when there are not enough volunteers, it is the airline's responsibility to determine its own fair boarding priorities," a DOT spokesperson said in a statement.