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Fake Asiana Pilot Names refers to four gag names read aloud on a local news broadcast after an NTSB representative reportedly confirmed the names. It was later revealed this representative was a summer intern.
Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash landed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6th, 2013, resulting in 3 deaths and more than 180 injuries. While reporting on the crash during their noon newscast on July 12th, Bay Area Fox affiliate KTVU co-anchor Tori Campbell reported that the names of the pilots on board were “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk” and “Bang Ding Ow.” Within three days, videos of the broadcast had been reuploaded to YouTube thousands of times, with the most-viewed version accruing nearly 7.2 million views.
The day of the news broadcast, a number of internet culture blogs and news sites covered the faux pas including MSNBC, Forbes, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Gawker, Uproxx, Hypervocal, TV Spy and the Daily Beast.
On the evening of July 12th, the NTSB issued an apology via press release noting that a summer intern had acted on his own authority by confirming the fake names, and asserted that appropriate action would be taken to assure a similar error would not happen again. The same day, KTVU issued an on-air apology (shown below), attributing these racist gag names to a joke that had spread online. Though it is unclear where they came from, the single topic Tumblr blog Public Shaming and racial justice group Changelab both reported a number of racist tweets that occurred immediately after the crash.
Asiana Airlines Lawsuit
On July 15th, the Associated Press reported that Asiana Airlines will be suing KTVU for making a racially discriminated report. In a statement, the company asserted that the use of these names “not only disparaged Asians in general through the use of racially charged epithets, but also severely damaged the reputation of Asiana Airlines.”
On July 22nd, newsroom gossip site FTVLive reported that KTVU began filing copyright infringement claims against a string of YouTube videos depicting the now infamous gaffe, while criticizing it as a “gutless move” in trying to cover up their mistake.
“The accidental mistake we made was insensitive and offensive. By now, most people have seen it. At this point, continuing to show the video is also insensitive and offensive, especially to the many in our Asian community who were offended. Consistent with our apology, we are carrying through on our responsibility to minimize the thoughtless repetition of the video by others.”
The Huffington Post – KTVU Reports Racist Joke As Names Of Asiana 214 Pilots (VIDEO) (UPDATE)