KTVU TV fails to verify Asiana pilot names: Racial joke goes viral

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KTVU-TV
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OAKLAND, CA – A San Francisco television station thought they were getting the jump on the competition when they posted the names of the pilots from ill-fated Asiana flight 214.

Friday, on their noon broadcast, television station KTVU-TV channel 2 announced the names of the four pilots as “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk” and “Bang Ding Ow.”

Oh yes they did – And now the video has gone viral.

It appears several mistakes were made and both KTVU and the National Transportation Safety Board issued apologies for their roles in the broadcast of the racially insensitive names.

“The NTSB has confirmed these are the names of the pilots aboard Flight 214 when it crashed,” the anchor said. “We are working to determine exactly what roles each of them played during the landing on Saturday.”

In a follow-up broadcast that evening KTVU’s Frank Somerville apologized saying, “We made several mistakes when we received this information. First, we never read the names out loud, phonetically sounding them out.”

Read: Asiana Airlines to sue KTVU

Continuing Somerville added, “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.”

“We sincerely regret the error and took immediate action to apologize, both in the newscast where the mistake occurred, as well as on our website and social media sites,” Tom Raponi, KTVU/KICU vice president and general manager, said in a statement Friday. “Nothing is more important to us than having the highest level of accuracy and integrity, and we are reviewing our procedures to ensure this type of error does not happen again.”

Shortly before 6 p.m. Friday, the NTSB issued the following statement:

“The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots. A summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.  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.”

Yeap – blame it on the intern.

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