DALLAS — When Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights over the weekend, citing bad weather and air traffic control issues, unsupported claims blaming vaccine mandates began taking off.
Conservative politicians and pundits, including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, alleged the flight disruptions resulted from pilots and air traffic controllers walking off their jobs or calling in sick to protest federal vaccination requirements.
The airline, its pilots’ union and the Federal Aviation Administration denied that.
“The weekend challenges were not a result of Southwest employee demonstrations,” Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said Monday.
Still, Twitter posts claiming airline employees were “standing up to medical tyranny” and participating in a “mass sickout” amassed thousands of shares. Vague and anonymous messages on social media speculated that Southwest was hiding the real reason for its disruptions. And anti-vaccine rallying cries such as #DoNotComply,…
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