We're not sure what's the worst of the three sins committed by Bay Area television station KTVU:
That an anchor went through the motions without noticing anything amiss as she read off clearly racist, fake names purported to be the pilots of Asiana flight 214 (Capt. Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow), that the journalist didn't realize the name of the captain had already been released (Lee Kang-kook or Lee Kang-guk), or that the station's apology claimed the NTSB confirmed those fake names.
Of course, it was obviously a prank of the highest if not most-racist order. For the station to try to pawn it off on the National Safety Transporation Board (it denies “confirming” those names, of course) only digs a deeper hole for the broadcaster.
The blogger known as Angry Asian Man was on it, writing:
Holy crap. This has to be one of the most epic broadcast news fails I've seen… and it's racist as hell.
… There's apparently a racist fourth grader running the show over at KTVU.
Though the station issued an on-air apology, we could find nothing on its site or Twitter feed about the prank.
[Added at 4:28 p.m.]: There is a recently added post from the station on the mistake, with Tom Raponi, KTVU vice president and general manager stating:
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. 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.
The mea culpa does continue to claim that the NTSB confirmed those names. Sure.
[Update at 11:28 p.m.]: The NTSB said an intern who wasn't supposed to speak to the media was somehow contacted by the station and, without authorization or apparent understanding of the situation, did “confirm” those names:
The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6.
Earlier today, in response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.
The NTSB does not release or confirm the names of crewmembers or people involved in transportation accidents to the media.
The board says “appropriate actions” will be taken to ensure this doesn't happen again. Meanwhile, NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel told the San Francisco Chronicle that the names “originated at the media outlet.”
She said the intern was not aware the names were offensive and he or she was “acting in good faith and trying to be helpful.”
The station, by the way, apologized at least one more time on-air and also stated this on Twitter:
— KTVU (@KTVU) July 12, 2013
If it was a hoax, it sounds like an inside job to us.