Don’t kill a story with facts.

As just about anyone connected to the Internet knows by now, United Airlines knuckleheads in Chicago dragged a doctor off a plane after no passengers volunteered to give up their seats to four pilots who needed to get to Louisville. The scene, showing a bleeding doctor being dragged along the plane floor, was captured on a cell phone video and went viral. Obviously, there is no excuse for the stupid behavior of United and airport employees.

However, in reporting the story, reference is usually made to a United incident last month that got widespread media attention and criticism. For example, the Boston Globe story of the doctor incident, April 11, 2017, included this sentence: “It is the second high-profile embarrassment for the airline in recent weeks, after it refused to let two girls board a flight in late March for wearing leggings.”

And that’s where the reporter doesn’t let facts ruin a story. The girls, flying free, on employee benefit passes, were not wearing appropriate clothing according to dress-code rules for such passengers. If you are a passenger who bought a ticket, you can dress any way you want. If you get a free flight because you are an employee, or dependent or pal of an employee, you agree to follow all the rules, including the dress code. (I know, I’ve flown on such passes plenty. I didn’t wear leggings. Or blue jeans. Or sneakers. I wore a jacket and necktie. I was one sharp dude.)

But the dress code rule the girls violated is not reported, as reporters follow the classic rule, often cited at the Press Club bar: Don’t kill a story with facts.

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