An unidentified passenger wearing a T-shirt indicating that journalists should be lynched was allowed to fly cross-country on a United Airlines flight despite a complaint from a fellow traveler who considered the message a death threat.
The male passenger’s shirt read: “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required.”
The incident occurred at the same time as a pro-Donald Trump conference at the president’s Doral golf resort in Florida that included an incendiary fictional video attacking journalists. It graphically depicted a fake “president” stabbing and shooting members of the media and political opponents in a bloody rampage in the “Church of Fake News.”
The United incident was first reported in a tweet by journalist Jessica Sidman, the food editor of The Washingtonian magazine, who included a photo of the passenger wearing the shirt. She said her brother, who was also traveling on the Los Angeles-to-Boston flight Friday, complained to a flight attendant as he boarded that he didn’t want one passenger threatening the life of other passengers.
Sidman’s brother was escorted off the plane by a United supervisor, who explained there was nothing United could do about the offensive message. Sidman’s brother turned down an offer of an alternative flight. Nothing was said to the other passenger, who wore the shirt throughout the trip, he told his sister.
Sidman’s brother told CNBC in an email: “I relayed that the shirt was not just offensive, it was threatening the lives of other passengers.” He didn’t want his identity revealed because he feared threats, the network reported. Forbes noted that he has worked in journalism.
He told Forbes in an email that he didn’t accept an alternative flight because “I didn’t want this to be about United appeasing me, a single customer. I wanted the airline I flew not to sanction the threatening of murder of any group.”
United did not respond to phone calls from HuffPost to comment on the situation. The airline was criticized two years ago when it kicked two girls off a flight traveling on a company pass for wearing leggings.
The controversial T-shirts have been sold at least since 2016 and were on sale outside the Republican National Convention that summer in Cleveland.
Twitter users erupted over the United incident. One noted that had the shirt said “Rope. Tree. United pilots,” the response likely would have been different.