Graduate News

Intern Blamed for Pilot Name Hoax

Anna Pitts

Tuesday 16th July 2013
internships, hoax, employment rights

"An intern used as a scapegoat for pilot name hoax mistake on national news was fired..."

Intern Blamed for Pilot Name Hoax


On July 6th, Asiana flight 214 crashed into San Francisco International airport after slamming into the seawall and catching fire. Three were killed, including a young girl and many more were injured. A San Francisco TV station, KTVU, listed the following names as the pilots on board:

Captain Sum Ting Wong

Wi Tu Low

Ho Lee Fuk

Bang Ding Ow

See the video of the airing here:


Does anything strike you as odd about these names of the supposed Pilots on flight 214? The phony names of Asian stereotype phrases such as 'something wrong' went unnoticed by the crew at KTVU causing major embarrassment to themselves and the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board(NTSB) who apparently confirmed the names.

 

Social media played its part as the public realised the obvious hoax immediately after they were broadcast, something the station failed to do before airing. Within minutes KTVU aired an apology for the racist names, however defended themselves by claiming they had been verified by the NTSB.

NTSB attributed the blame to none other than the summer intern, who, according to them, 'acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names'. They also said they would take action to ensure such a serious error is never made again. Presumably this means not having summer interns? Or, perhaps, a better course of action would be to supply interns with the proper amount of guidance and support they need in difficult situations which are beyond their knowledge and control?

KTVU also admit they should have asked for the name and title of the confirmer at NTSB and so admit their role in the error. However, Asiana airlines are intending to sue the Californian TV station for airing the fake, racially offensive names of the pilots on the grounds of defamation. The company argue that not only were the names offensive, but the reputation of Asiana airlines has now been tainted. They plan to push the legal battle despite KTVU offering their 'sincerest apology'.

The intern was a student volunteer who 'fielded phone calls but was instructed to transfer questions to official media representatives at the agency'. They have since been let go from their position at NTSB after being solely blamed for this tragedy. This will undoubtedly tarnish their reputation and unsettle their professional future due to this one mistake which arguably is not even their fault.

Do you think this is fair or even true? Have you ever been used as a scapegoat whilst interning? Share your thoughts in the comments.