Something Wrong, Alright

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

As was widely reported and mocked (“mockported”?), following the crash of Asiana Flight 214, KTVU in San Francisco reported some erroneous pilot names:

False Asiana Names

The network rapidly apologized for the gaffe, and attempted to deflect blame by claiming the names had been confirmed by the NTSB. At the time, that seemed like a pretty terrible lie. However, the story grew a bit more bizarre when it turned out an unauthorized NTSB intern had indeed confirmed the names. Obviously, this was wrong, but man it must have felt so very right. Hell, if the anonymous intern wasn’t the originator of the names, then can you really blame him?

Picture it: You’re a low-paid and possibly bitter intern who receives a credulous call from a news station, looking to confirm some preposterous and obviously false names. You pop up above your cubicle and swivel your head, surveying the scene like Thomas Anderson in the Matrix. You duck back down as you cover the receiver to hide your laughter. You’re sweating now, nervous. Pull it together, pull it together, you can do this. Summoning all the gravitas you can muster, you say “Yes, that’s correct”, then rapidly end the call. Now you sit back, sweating, and wonder if you’ve pulled it off. You’re about to watch the world burn.

Obviously, the names did air, and the sideshow of a story spread across the web. Following that, Asiana Airlines has decided to sue KTVU. Perhaps this is an attempt to deflect some of the negative attention they’re currently receiving, but if so, it’s incredibly misguided.

“We decided to sue KTVU because Asiana Airlines thinks their news defames our pilots and our company’s reputation,” Ki-won Suh, an Asiana spokesman, said on Monday.

Maybe this is actionable. Perhaps Asiana does have a case against KTVU. The courts can decide that. But you know what tends to be really bad for an airline’s reputation? A fatal plane crash.

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