Local Station Runs Cringe-Worthy Report Identifying Asiana Pilots

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 12 2013 9:56 PM

NTSB Blames Rogue Summer Intern For Cringe-Worthy TV Report "Identifying" Asiana Pilots

Thanks in part to a rogue intern at the National Transportation Safety Board, KTVU, a local Fox affiliate in the San Francisco Bay area on Friday offered up a cringe-worthy report on the Asiana crash-landing. Here, watch for yourself:

Those names again: "Sum Ting Wong," "Wi Tu Lo," "Ho Lee Fuk," and "Bang Ding Ow." Ugh. After realizing their mistake—I'm guessing about .01 seconds after hearing the name "Ho Lee Fuk" read out loud—the network offered an on-air apology, but by then the damage had been done.

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An agency spokesman initially denied that the NTSB had given the highly questionable names to the network, explaining that it would have been against agency policy to do so even if they would have been the correct ones. "I don’t know who [KTVU] got that from, but we do not release names," NTSB public affairs officer Peter Knudson told Gawker Friday evening.

But a few hours later the NTSB had figured out who was to blame: An intern. "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 in a statement. It remains somewhat unclear, however, whether the intern simply confirmed a set of fake names that were read to him, or if he or she came up with them in the first place.

If it were the latter, it wouldn't have taken a herculean effort  to double-check the odd-sounding names given at least two of the pilots, Lee Gang-kuk and Lee Jeong-Min, had previously been identified by Asiana, a fact that had already been widely reported this week—including in an Associated Press article that's been on the KTVU website since Wednesday.

This post has been updated with additional information as it became available.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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