The NTSB and San Francisco Fox affiliate KTVU were forced to apologize after airing fake and offensive names of the pilots in the Asiana flight that crashed earlier this month.
News anchor Tori Campbell reported that the names had been “confirmed” with the NTSB and read them over an on-screen graphic showing the names alongside a photo of the burned aircraft:
“We have new information now also on the plane crash. KTVU has just learned the names of the four pilots who were on board the flight. They are Captain Sum Ting Wong, We Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow. And the NTSB has confirmed these are the names of the pilots on board Flight 214 when it crashed. We are working to determine what roles each of them played during the landing on Saturday.”
After a commercial break, Campbell stated that “these names were not accurate, despite an NTSB official in Washington confirming this information late this morning. We apologize for this error.”
KTVU also issued an apology on their website, stating, “We made several mistakes when we received this information. First, we never read the names out loud, phonetically sounding them out. Then, during our phone call to the NTSB where the person confirmed the spellings of the names, we never asked that person to give us their position with the agency. We heard this person verify the information without questioning who they were and then rushed the names on our noon newscast.”
The NTSB also issued a statement, apologizing for the act of a “summer intern” who was responsible for the names:
“A summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft,” its statement said. “The NTSB does not release or confirm the names of crewmembers or people involved in transportation accidents to the media. We work hard to ensure that only appropriate factual information regarding an investigation is released and deeply regret today’s incident. Appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.”
It has been reported that the intern no longer works for the NTSB.
Below is a video which shows the original report from KTVU.
Asiana spokesman Lee Hyomin announced that the airlines will sue KTVU for damaging its reputation by broadcasting the offensive names. Some have suggested the crash itself likely damaged Asiana’s reputation more than the broadcasting of fake pilot names.
Days after the incident, three veteran producers were dismissed by KTVU.
In August 2013, KTVU began an effort to remove the embarrassing clip from YouTube. Some have suggested this nearly-impossible task will only serve keep the incident in the spotlight even longer.
Article updated August 3, 2013
- KTVU Apology for Friday Noon report (KTVU.com: July 12, 2013)
- KTVU sorry for on-air Asiana pilot name gaffe (Roger Yu, USA Today: July 13, 2013)
- San Francisco Crash Airline Asiana to Sue TV Network over Hoax Racist Crew Names (Timur Moon, International Business Times: July 16, 2013)
- KTVU producers fired over Asiana pilots’ fake names (Matier & Ross, SF Gate: July 24, 2013)
- KTVU blooper: Suppressed for whose benefit? (no longer available) (The Boston Globe: August 3, 2013)