One day after the video of a United Airlines passenger getting dragged off a plane surfaced, the Courier Journal chose to focus on the past of the victim. The article, written by Morgan Watkins, identified the man as David Dao, a 69 year old physician from Elizabethtown, KY.
Monday, a video of Dao went viral when he was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight after the flight was overbooked. Now, the airline is facing a huge public relations crisis.
On Tuesday morning, one day after the incident, The Courier Journal reported on Dao’s “troubled past”. The article cited documents filed with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure from last June which stated that Dao’s medical license was suspended in 2005 after being convicted of “drug-related offenses”. Allegedly, Dao illegally prescribed painkillers and wrote prescriptions to a patient in exchange for sex.
Now, the newspaper is facing harsh criticism online for choosing to point out Dao’s past. Many people think this information is irrelevant to the current situation and are dragging the newspaper online.
This isn’t the first time media has received backlash after publishing stories that justify the action taken against a victim or insinuating that the victim is to blame. Many people are comparing this incident to when in 2014, the New York times reported that Michael Brown, the 18 year old unarmed black man who was shot and killed by white police in Ferguson, Missouri, was “No angel”.
Joel Christopher, executive editor of the Courier Journal, defended the article by saying “There can be reasonable disagreements about at what points you hit publish during iterative reporting,” wrote Christopher. “I’m comfortable with when we decided to publish in this case.”
“This is an individual, who because of his past case, is known to people in the area,” he said. “Referring to him without referring to [his past] would be highly unusual.”
The article has since been updated and the new headline reads, “David Dao, Passenger Removed for United Flight, Now in Spotlight”.