The Asiana Airlines crash last week at San Francisco International Airport took the lives of three young girls. It was also the first commercial aviation disaster in a couple years, which made the tragedy even bigger news. What went wrong? No one knows yet, but for one news channel out of Oakland, California, the crash led to one of the most humiliating and racist on-air news gaffes in history.
An anchor for the Oakland-based TV station, KTVU-TV, read the names of the "pilots" who were flying the plane as: "Sum Ting Wong"; "Ho Lee Fuk"; "Wi Tu Lo"; and "Bang Ding Ow." They even double checked the "report" with the NTSB where an intern allegedly confirmed those as the names (seriously?). Obviously, everyone was hugely offended. It's probably the worst news gaffe I have ever seen on air.
Now Asiana has responded and said that they plan to "strongly respond to its racially discriminatory report" that disparaged Asians, Asiana spokeswoman Lee Hyomin said. She said the airline will likely file suit in U.S. courts. I say: Good.
I don't know if the news anchors here are stupid or if they just weren't thinking about what these "names" sounded like. It seems like it was just some kind of prank that got out of hand.
Still, it was horribly timed and a massive oversight that never should have made it on air. The station has apologized, though the Asian American Journalists Association said that, even with the NTSB's apology, the station "is hardly off the hook" and called the names "grossly offensive."
They aren't and they are. That's just a fact. I am not sure what a lawsuit will change here. But I would hope it will make news organizations think twice before putting something like this on air. It would be one thing if it were a simple mistake, but this should have been immediately obvious.
My heart goes out to anyone who was further traumatized by this "prank" and I hope a lawsuit is something that will actually create real change.
Do you think the news station deserves to be sued?
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