On Friday, KTVU TV in the Bay Area reported the names of the Asiana pilots on air, and named four fake Asian-sounding names: “Captain Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk” and “Bang Ding Ow.” Here is the video of the news report.
Get it? Captain Sum Ting Wong rhymes with Captain Something Wrong.
After the social media world went after KTVU and the nonprofit Asian American Journalists Association started asking questions, the National Transportation Safety Board apologized and acknowledged that a summer intern “erroneously confirmed the pilot names,” in a Friday news release. KTVU also issued an apology Friday.
AAJA released a statement saying, “Those names were not only wrong, but so grossly offensive that it’s hard for us at the Asian American Journalists Association to fathom how those names made it on the broadcast.” In fact, a KTVU staff member hung up on AAJA President Paul Cheung when he called to ask how the names appeared on air, according to Cheung.
To put this in context, this is an aviation disaster in which three people died, many were critically injured, possibly paralyzed, and the government agency charged with investigating the crash made a joke of it.
When the agency held a news conference reporting the final minutes of pilot dialogue before the crash, should we consider that a joke too? Perhaps it would be helpful if the agency’s final report about the Asiana 777 crash in San Francisco was issued in gibberish, which the NTSB could claim was Korean.
Pinning the blame on the summer intern is interesting. First, the NTSB statement doesn’t mention whether the intern still works at the NTSB. He or she needs to be terminated immediately. The agency should investigate whether this intern acted alone, or perhaps developed the joke with others at the agency.
But the responsibility for interns lies with their supervisors. Anyone who has worked with summer interns knows that no matter how talented they are, they require supervision and training. Whoever was in charge of the interns needs to be terminated. When that happens, the NTSB should publicly announce the disciplinary action taken, and announce what kind of safeguards will be enacted to prevent this from happening again.
KTVU bears some of the blame as well. This is a major stain for a local news station that was highly respected. The news station, a Fox affiliate, used to carry the same weight in the Bay Area as KING 5 does in Seattle. The station was a leader in putting Asian Americans on air. Asian American journalist Lloyd LaCuesta was a reporter at KTVU for 35 years.
An experienced producer and news director would have known that the NTSB does not routinely identify pilots during an investigation. Asiana intends to sue the station, according to an Associated Press report.
The whole thing reeks of a teenage boy’s locker room.
Neither the station nor the NTSB has acknowledged where the inaccurate and offensive names came from. KTVU says it “received the names” and confirmed the spelling with the NTSB. The NTSB says its intern confirmed the names.
The translation: I’m rubber and you’re glue and whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.