The National Transportation Safety Board apologized and blamed an intern on Friday for confirming a set of names said to belong to the pilots of the ill-fated Asiana Flight 214. The names were fake and realized as a prank after a KTVU news anchor in California read them out loud on the station's midday newscast.
KTVU also issued an apology for "mistakes" that contributed to their broadcast of the names, a clip of which has now gone viral on YouTube with more than a million views as of Saturday morning.
"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," noted the NTSB in the apology posted to their website.
"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," it noted while promising that steps will be taken to ensure the error isn't repeated.
KTVU news also published an apology for their role in the error, highlighting several missteps in their vetting of the information that was passed on to them.
"We made several mistakes when we received this information. First, we never read the names out loud, phonetically sounding them out," noted the station in their apology. "Then, during our phone call to the NTSB where the person confirmed the spellings of the names, we never asked that person to give us their position with the agency."
"We heard this person verify the information without questioning who they were and then rushed the names on our noon newscast."
Public reaction to the gaffe has been mixed but many have dismissed it as amusing, careless and in extreme comments, racist.
"NTSB confirmed those names huh?? Not only is this hilarious, it shows just how trustworthy our local news stations are!" wrote Jonathan Kolbinsky in a comment on the YouTube clip of the KTVU news broadcast on Saturday.
"First off the network was stupid and did not pause to fact check their source, and went on air with an obviously made up list of names. My guess is the anchor is the type of woman that just reads a teleprompter and does not think," added Joshua Hiett on YouTube.
"The humor is in the fact that a news network could be duped into releasing a list of names that are puns based on Asian naming conventions. The sad thing is the world has become over sensitive, we can't breath for risk of offending someone," he added.