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NTSB intern confirmed wrong names in on-air flub

Television station KTVU is apologizing for an embarrassing mistake where the station says it was duped by some sort of hoax in reporting fake names of the pilots involved in the Asiana Airlines crash.

During the station’s noon newscast Friday anchor Tori Campbell reported that KTVU had “just learned the names of the four pilots who were on board the flight.”

Campbell then — with careful and professionally deliberate articulation — read the names of the pilots as:

“Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow.”

As she read, a graphic displayed the bogus names.

Campbell finished the report by telling viewers that the NTSB had confirmed the names of pilots, and that the station was working on determining what roles each of them played during the landing.

Later in the newscast, Campbell made an on-air correction, apologized for the mistake, but said the names had been confirmed earlier by an NTSB official.

Friday evening the NTSB released a statement confirming that a summer intern there had erroneously confirmed the names to an unnamed media outlet:

“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 station also tweeted that it was apologizing for “falling for a hoax” and posted on its website an apology from vice president and general manager Tom Raponi, who also said the bogus names had come from the NTSB:

“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 station also posted the correct names of two of the pilots in the cockpit as Lee Gang-Guk and Lee Jeong-Min.

The names of the two pilots had previously been reported by various media outlets, but in daily briefings held after the crash  NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman had not referred to them by name, instead referring to the pilots as the “flying pilot” and the “training pilot.”

The on-air gaffe comes after KTVU — a perennial ratings leader — trumpeted its coverage of the crash, saying they were the first on the air and first with a reporter on the scene.

The station — a Fox affiliate — also says some of its aerial coverage was used by rival network ABC for a national report.

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