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After a Boeing passenger jet lost a door mid-flight, right-wing media rushed to blame the failure on DEI

Once again, right-wing media figures are exploiting corporate failures to attack DEI initiatives

After a malfunction occurred aboard a Boeing 737 Max plane, right-wing media capitalized on the news to baselessly claim diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) measures were at fault, adding to their ongoing campaign against such efforts. 

  • A Boeing 737 jet lost part of a door on January 5

    • On January 5, a portion of the fuselage on a Boeing 737 Max 9 passenger jet operated by Alaska Airlines dislodged mid-flight, resulting in minor injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board opened an investigation into the cause of the part failure, and Boeing grounded some 737 Max 9 planes until inspections can be completed. [The Associated Press, 1/9/24, 1/7/24, 1/11/24]
  • Right-wing media figures directly blamed or insinuated that DEI programs are the cause of Boeing’s safety issues

    • On Fox Business’ The Big Money Show, host Brian Brenberg noted that “ Boeing seemed to be particularly interested in sustainability and DEI” and asked, “Does that come at the cost of something?” Brenburg continued, “These are the kinds of questions that have to be answered in this investigation.” [Fox Business, The Big Money Show, 1/10/24]
    • On Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham admitted that “we can't link the diversity efforts to what happened” but nevertheless said it’s “worth asking at this point is excellence what we need in airline operation or is diversity the goal here?” Earlier in the segment, Ingraham had sarcastically said, “Boeing, you know, the doors have fallen off the planes, but at least they’re meeting their diversity goals, I guess, in Boeing.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/10/24]
    • While teasing a segment about the 737 Max safety issues, Fox Business host Sean Duffy exclaimed, “Attention Boeing executives, DEI must die, not passengers on your plane.” In a later segment, Duffy said, “This is a dangerous business when you’re focused on DEI and maybe less focused on engineering and safety, and Heritage Foundation fellow Stephen Moore responded, “You better believe it.” He added: “Does anyone want to get in an airplane and think, hey, I wonder if the pilot was chosen because he’s got the best skills or because of this person’s sexual orientation or race or gender, or whatever it is, all these other factors that don’t have anything to do with performance.”  [Fox Business, The Bottom Line, 1/11/241/11/24]
    • On X (formerly Twitter), anti-LGBTQ activist James Lindsay asked “how many airframes the DEI kids ruined” at Boeing. His post went on to speculate that Boeing’s DEI efforts led to “incompetents ruining entire aircraft.” [Twitter/X, 1/11/24]
    • OutKick host Buck Sexton claimed in a social media post that Boeing had a “DEI obsession” that posed a “major risk to airline safety.” [Twitter/X, 1/10/24]
    • Right-wing internet personality Ian Miles Cheong claimed that the “737 MAX was put together by a team of ‘diverse’ engineers,” adding that it was “no surprise that they’re falling apart.” [Twitter/X, 1/6/24]
    • The Daily Wire ran a piece titled “The DEI Rot In The Airline Industry Is Way Worse Than You Think.” Author and anti-LGBTQ bigot Matt Walsh claimed that DEI measures were making the airline industry “less competent and reliable” and that he was “not at all eager to ever board a plane again.” [The Daily Wire, 1/10/24]
  • Despite right-wing attacks on corporate DEI initiatives, experts say most DEI initiatives actually have little negative impact

    • Observers have noted that DEI measures are unlikely to have a negative impact on an organization’s priorities and performance and are less common than imagined. In an interview with Rolling Stone, a DEI consultant indicated that “the supposed crisis is vastly overblown — not only because DEI doesn’t have the negative effects described by conservatives, but because it’s far less institutionalized than its critics imagine.” [Rolling Stone, 1/11/24]
    • Right-wing media have also used the Silicon Valley Bank crash to push anti-DEI attacks and have attacked DEI policies broadly. [Media Matters, 3/13/23, 7/13/23]