Robert O'Neill, the former Navy SEAL who was banned from Delta yesterday for failing to wear a mask onboard, claims this is all a misunderstanding, he is being persecuted by the New York Times, and wants a meeting with Delta CEO Ed Bastian to straighten the matter out. Oh, and he has a million Delta miles.
Appearing on Fox News, O'Neill attempted to defend his conduct. First, he said he was eating when the incident occurred:
"As far as I know, Delta's policy is that you don't have to wear a mask when you are eating and drinking in your seat and that is what I was doing. You can see the flight attendant in the back there [referring to the picture above]. She just handed out it was like some cheese nips or something and a bottle of water. And I took a selfie and then I posted it as a peaceful protest to my Twitter followers."
He blames the New York Times and New York Post (owned by the same family that owns Fox News) for taking the image and pressuring Delta to ban him.
"Delta's having an image problem as it is. They've been accused of racism and anti-semitism. I'd hate to add anti-American to it."
He claims he is not anti-mask but then claims his tweet was a "peaceful protest" against masks. The host asks him if he only took it off for food and drink or if it was indeed a protest.
O'Neill said it was a joke...then a protest...then admitted:
"It's possible there was a couple spots walking through the airport. But I mean, what are the rules? If you are six feet apart from someone, do you still need wear the mask? I'm not sure about that. And if you're walking around the airports all day, I'm going to take it off at some point."
So right there, folks, is an admission.
He then says, "If someone felt uncomfortable, I'd put the mask on" (implying, once again, it was off for more than the snack service) and adds, "But I do have a problem of being ordered to do it."
"I don't think I violated the policy. I'd love to talk to the CEO, Mr. Bastian, about it. I'd like to help them because their image isn't very good. And I have a million miles on Delta."
He finally admits that he does that he doesn't think face coverings are effective and again stresses he would only wear one if it made others feel more comfortable.
You can watch the interview here:
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Although a total softball interview, I think O'Neill dug himself in a deeper hole by admitting that he did not wear his mask while walking through the airport. I'm not a militant member of the mask police...but I do believe we need to follow rules that Delta is free to set. O'Neill did not help his cause here...