‘Sum Ting Wong’?! TV station falls for mother of all hoaxes in Asiana crash

Jul 12, 2013, 2:15 PM | Updated: Jul 15, 2013, 10:51 am
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It could be the mother of all TV news screwups, after a Bay Area station reported Friday the pilots of Asiana’s flight 214 that crash landed in San Francisco were the crack team of “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow.”

“I don’t want to oversell it, but this is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever heard in my life,” Dori said after watching the video of the newscast. “Hearing her read those names, that’s unbelievable.”

Asiana announced Monday that it will sue KTVU, saying the bogus and racially insensitive names damaged the airline’s reputation.

Clearly, the station was the victim of a hoax. But KTVU, which has since apologized multiple times for the report, released a statement and read it on air saying an NTSB official confirmed the names to them earlier Friday.

“Earlier in the newscast we gave some names of pilots involved in the Asiana Airlines crash. These names were not accurate despite an N-T-S-B official in Washington confirming them late this morning. We apologize for this error.”

Suffice it to say we now have a runaway leader for Dori’s awesomest audio of the year.

So how could such a hoax get on the air?

“I bet it was somebody who called the newsdesk,” Dori speculated. “That’s how the pranksters work. They say I’m returning your call. Because you’ve got interns, you’ve got desk assistants, you’ve got producers calling.”

While the anchor might have simply been handed the copy to read, you have to wonder how so many people didn’t notice.

The NTSB also issued an apology late Friday afternoon for “inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots.”

“A summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft,” it said in a statement “The NTSB does not release or confirm the names of crewmembers or people involved in transportation accidents to the media. We work hard to ensure that only appropriate factual information regarding an investigation is released and deeply regret today’s incident. Appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.”

Asiana has decided to sue KTVU-TV 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.

Asiana decided not to sue the NTSB because it said it was the TV station report, not the U.S. federal agency that damaged the airline’s reputation. Lee did not elaborate.

KTVU-TV did not immediately reply to emails sent by The Associated Press seeking comment.

Neither the station nor the NTSB commented on where the names originated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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‘Sum Ting Wong’?! TV station falls for mother of all hoaxes in Asiana crash