Bay area television station KTVU on Friday falsely reported the names of the four pilots aboard Asiana Flight 214 as racially offensive epithets. During KTVU’s noon newscast, the news anchor read the four names off the teleprompter, citing confirmation from a National Transportation Safety Board official in Washington, D.C.
The NTSB just released a press release also apologizing for the erroneous names of the Asiana pilots and stated that “a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority” to confirm the names of the four pilots of the aircraft.
The NTSB has again confirmed that they have not released the names of the crewmembers or individuals involved in the tragic crash. “We work hard to ensure that only appropriate factual information regarding an investigation is released and deeply regret today’s incident,” the statement read. “Appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.”
Shortly after the segment aired, the news clip went viral on the Internet and quickly drew considerable backlash. Later in the broadcast, the station apologized for misidentifying the pilots’ names. The broadcast’s noon anchor, Tori Campbell, read the following statement on-air.
“Earlier in the newscast, we gave some names of the pilots involved in the Asiana Airlines crash. These names were not accurate despite an NTSB official in Washington confirming them late this morning. We apologize for this error.”
Earlier this week, Asiana Airlines released the names of the pilots in the cockpit as Lee Kang-Kuk and Lee Jung-Min.
msnbc called the station to ask for a comment on their false reporting, and the news desk read the formal apology and declined to further comment. The apology was posted on the station’s website in addition to Facebook and Twitter.
“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,” said Tom Raponi, KTVU/KICU Vice President & General Manager. “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.”
Located in Oakland, Calif., the Fox affiliate represents a city where 16.8% of the population is Asian. KTVU also broadcasts in two heavily Asian-populated communities, according to the latest Census numbers: San Francisco, where the Asians make up 33.3% of the total population and San Jose, where 32% of the population is Asian.
KTVU’s false report comes after a week of speculating whether Saturday’s disastrous Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco International airport could be attributed to Korean “culture” and whether or not South Korea’s tradition of deference to hierarchy could have played a role in the crash.
During Wednesday’s press briefing, a reporter asked NTSB Chairwoman Debbie Hersman whether the Asiana co-pilot had shown “deference” to the pilot. Hersman ignored the racially charged question and responded by pointing out that the aviation industry has continuously dealt with “an authority gradient” regarding communication issues in the cockpit and that her department would continue “to make sure that a junior pilot feels comfortable challenging a senior pilot, and to make sure that a senior pilot welcomes feedback.”
She added that the co-pilot was also the “pilot in command,” who should take equal responsibility for the flight’s ultimate safety.
Federal investigators have not yet determined the cause of the airline crash.
According to hospital officials, a child who was severely injured in the Asiana Airlines crash died Friday morning, bringing the death toll to three. A San Francisco Police Department spokesman told NBC News that another victim, a Chinese teenager, died at the scene of the crash after being run over by a fire truck.
Sixteen people remained in hospitals Friday evening, including two adults in critical condition.
Updated 9:15 p.m.