In this long hot summer with so much bad news, Steven Slater came along this week and gave people something else to talk about.
The JetBlue flight attendant became an unlikely folk hero. Since Monday, Slater has been riding a wave of praise as a working man's hero pushed to his limit, but now passengers are challenging his account and saying he was repeatedly rude and unprofessional, CBS News Correspondent Michelle Miller reports.
"Not a hello, not a smile, nothing," JetBlue passenger Howard Deneroff said.
Deneroff, a New York radio host, said Slater was testy.
"He reached over, hit the button himself and smacked the back of the seat to pull it up, but it didn't go anywhere," said Deneroff. "As I had told him it was already up."
Another passenger, Lauren Wood, told CBS News Station KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh that she also felt mistreated.
"He literally just walked away from me," said Wood. "He was so rude the entire flight, and a lot of passengers that I spoke to said the same thing."
Slater said he was injured by a passenger who slammed an overhead door on his forehead. Several passengers saw the injury, but none saw how it happened.
"When I first saw it, I thought he had just cut his head and was on his way to the bathroom to wash it and Band-Aid, and he didn't, and I thought that's weird; something's not totally right here," passenger Katie Doebler said.
In fact, law enforcement officials tell CBS News they've interviewed 70 percent of the passengers "have yet to corroborate any of (Slater's) story."
Marjorie Briskin told The Wall Street Journal she saw a nasty exchange between Slater and a passenger after the plane landed, but she said Slater was to blame and the first to use profanity.
"I didn't think she was rude in the least," Briskin told the newspaper. "It really blew my mind. It was so inappropriate."
On Thursday, Slater's attorney Howard Turman declined to address passengers' claims directly.
"I can't answer for the intent or minds of those people you spoke to," he told reporters.
Despite it all, the guy who famously quit his job now says he wants it back.
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