It wasn’t discriminatory for Newshub to highlight the fact that an airline passenger was obese, the New Zealand Media Council ruled.
Newshub’s May article reported on a plane crash in Moscow and an obese passenger, Dmitry Khlebushkin, who was accused of “blocking others from reaching safety because he insisted on getting his bag out of the overhead locker.” The article added that Khlebushkin wanted a refund after the plane crashed, that no passengers sitting behind him survived, and that he was accused of blocking passengers from escaping.
Another man complained to the council about the article, arguing it was discriminatory and offensive to highlight the fact Khlebushkin is obese. “The subject is allegedly a selfish idiot who caused others to lose their life. His body mass index is irrelevant,” the complainant argued.
Newshub, however, argued the size of Khlebushkin was relevant to the report. While the media council noted its guidelines advise against “gratuitous emphasis” on “physical or mental disability,” the council found that “obesity could be considered to be a factor that delayed his exit” and that of others. iMediaEthics has written to Newshub for more information.