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Asiana says it won’t sue KTVU 2; onus on station to explain bogus report

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Asiana Airlines did an abrupt about-face today, announcing it will not sue KTVU 2 after all for the station’s airing that bogus report involving fake and culturally-insensitive names identifying the Flight 214 pilots. A lawsuit against the station for damaging its reputation was a bad PR move, and the airline apparently thought better of it.

But will Asiana’s move now be a problem for the station? KTVU’s management has from the get-go avoided explaining the breakdown in its news operation that led to noon anchor Tori Campbell’s now infamous words, along with screen graphics, last Friday (see the video). Since Sunday, the station’s brass has used the threat of a lawsuit as a fig leaf to say it would have nothing further to say about the matter. Now, the pressure will undoubtedly mount on KTVU to explain what happened, or face further damage to its reputation, which has taken a beating, both from the gaffe and the station’s head-in-the-sand handling of it.

Related: Attached to a Chronicle report today at SF Gate is a five-day-old video from New York CBS affiliate Channel 2 which is indicative of the hook swallowed by more than a few media outlets—to focus the blame on a summer intern at the National Transportation Safety Board, whose bone-headed error was to confirm the bogus names. The intern was promptly dismissed.

The bigger questions, which KTVU management has—rather irresponsibly—left unanswered, is who at the station came up with the preposterous names and how such a prank got to air without being flagged.

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