Was KTVU “Bart Simpsoned” on Pilot Names Error? NTSB Blames Intern for Mistake

When Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash landed at SFO on July 6, the media was hungry for information for their telecasts.  Perhaps a little too hungry.  Like many of you, I saw the infamous screen grab of KVTU’s flight crew list on Facebook and thought it was a very bad (and inappropriate) Facebook prank.  But with some quick digging, it was very clear that the screen grab was real, aired in their noon broadcast on July 12th and the station had been punked.  The bogus names phonetically spelled out phrases such as “Something Wrong” and “We Too Low.”

You’d think that the names were an obvious prank of some sort, but then maybe no one at the station has ever watched The Simpsons or they would naturally have been highly suspect.  One of the running gags in earlier Simpson’s episodes were Bart Simpson’s childish prank calls to Moe, the Bartender, which Moe always falls for.

KTVUKTVU issued this apology in their 6pm broadcast on July 12th:  On Friday, July 12, during the KTVU Channel 2 Noon newscast, we misidentified the pilots in the Asiana Airlines crash.  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.

Additionally, KTVU posted this on their website: “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.

The NTSB did not identify the intern, but said, “Appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.”  I would certainly hope so.  The question that hasn’t been answered is “why?” The full NTSB statement can be found here.

Even with this statement from the NTSB, KTVU accepts full responsibility for this mistake.

Asiana Flight 214 was carrying 291 passengers and 16 crew members when it crash landed Saturday on the runway after striking a seawall.  Three people died and 180 were injured.

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Copyright (c) 2013. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

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