Epic Fail in Local Stations' Reading of Mock Asiana 214 Pilots' Names Is at Least Half on NTSB

Late this afternoon, an anchor at Oakland TV station KTVU unfortunately read four offensive and insensitive mock Asian-sounding names and identified them as the pilots of Asiana Flight 214, which crash landed at San Franscisco Airport last weekend. A third crash victim died today.

While the station deserves plenty of blame for failing to catch the obviously phony names before airing them, at least half of the blame goes to the National Transportation Safety Board which fed it the improper information, as Politico's Nick Gass reports:


NTSB confirmed fake pilot names of Flight 214

The NTSB said late Friday that an intern had confirmed to a California news station the fake names of the pilots aboard the crashed Asiana flight in San Francisco, sparking an outcry in the national media and prompting an on-air apology from the station.

“The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6,” the NTSB said in a statement released Friday night.

“Earlier today, in response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft,” the agency said.

KTVU, San Francisco’s Fox affiliate, broadcast the incorrect names of the pilots during its noon newscast on Friday, despite the fact that the names of the pilot and co-pilot, Lee Gang-guk and Lee Jeong-min, had already been released. The fake names were racially charged and phonetically offensive.

KTVU apologized during its 6 p.m. newscast.

“First of all, we never read the names out loud, phonetically sounding them out,” anchor Frank Somerville said, adding that the station also didn’t ask the position of the person within the NTSB giving them the ultimately erroneous information.

The station also issued an apology on its website Friday evening.

With all due respect (which at the moment is very little), I'm having a hard time believing that the NTSB was actually using a summer intern to field media inquiries in "the first fatal accident in the United States since 2009." But if they were ... wow.

"Mistakenly confirmed" and "erroneously confirmed"? How about "made up offensive racially charged names and thought it was funny"?

If anyone is being insufficiently apologetic and not getting nearly enough opprobrium, it's the clowns at NTSB.

Next thing you know, NTSB will be blaming sequestration for forcing it to cover the station's call with an intern with a sick sense of humor instead of a full-time professional.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.