Embarrassing KTVU report allegedly started as an internal joke

A source at the Oakland station says an inter-office email made its way to a report in a "perfect storm" of mishaps

Published July 26, 2013 10:30PM (EDT)

It was only 30 seconds long, but a July 12th segment in which Oakland Fox affiliate KTVU erroneously reported the names of four pilots commandeering Asiana flight 214 continues to make headlines. Since its broadcast, KTVU has been threatened with a lawsuit, attempted to scrub footage of the video from the Internet and fired three of its veteran producers after an inside investigation.

KOMY Radio Host and media blogger Rich Lieberman, who first reported the firings at KTVU, now reports that the entire debacle started out as an inside joke that got out of hand:

Spoke to a person close to the entire matter at hand and this individual told me that the entire affair was a "perfect storm" of unintended consequences. In other words, an internal "joke" that wasn't meant to get anywhere near the studio, let alone the anchor desk.

"I don't think (the person) who sent it could ever imagine that it would have made air," said the KTVU insider.

That person who sent the joke e-mail; a longtime source that the station has relied on in the past as a trusted informant, is now at the heart of the investigation.

The offensive fake names were confirmed independently by an intern at the National Safety Transportation Board, who has since been let go.

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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