KTVU Producers Fired Over Asiana Pilots’ Fake Names Gaffe

Bay Area news station KTVU has reportedly fired three veteran producers after an anchor read fake, racially insensitive names for the pilots flying Asiana Airlines Flight 214.

The Boeing 777 clipped a sea wall and slammed into a runway at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, killing three people and injuring over 180 others.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, investigative producer Roland DeWolk, special projects producer Cristina Gastelu, and producer Brad Belstock were dismissed following an in-house investigation. A fourth producer, Elvin Sledge, said he was leaving the station because of health reasons.

Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) fired the summer intern who confirmed the names of the pilots, which included “Captain Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Bang Ding Ow,” and “Ho Lee Fuk.”

In the July 12 segment, anchorwoman Tori Campbell said, “The NTSB has confirmed these are the names of the pilots aboard Flight 214 when it crashed. We are working to determine exactly what roles each of them played during the landing on Saturday.” However, it is unclear who really provided the names to KTVU, since the NTSB said that it “does not release or confirm the names of crewmembers or people involved in transportation accidents to the media.”

“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 said in an apology.

KTVU also apologized on its website and on its social media pages, and anchor Frank Somerville read an apology on air during a broadcast later that day.

“Tonight we want to take a moment and say that we are sorry. Earlier today during our noon newscast, we misidentified the pilots in the Asiana Airlines crash,” Somerville said.

“First of all, 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,” he continued. “We heard this person verify the information without questioning who they were, and then we rushed the names onto our noon newscast.”

The correct names of the pilots were Lee Gang-guk and Lee Jeong-Min. Asiana Airlines considered suing KTVU, but later decided not to.

Do you think KTVU did the right thing by firing the producers of the newscast?