By now the world is aware of a San Francisco television station ‘confirming’ the names of the pilots of Asiana 214 which crashed on landing in San Francisco last weekend.
When I saw the clip on YouTube yesterday there were fewer than 1000 views. Now as of this writing there have been nearly 2 million.
In case it’s new to you:
The San Francisco television station insisted it really wasn’t their fault and indeed in the televised report they claimed the pilot names were confirmed by the National Transportation Safety Board.
My first thought was how could this be possible?
Now we learn that the pilot names were confirmed by a spokesperson for the NTSB. who happens to have been an intern.
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.
The NTSB does not release or confirm the names of crewmembers or people involved in transportation accidents to the media.
It remains unclear:
- Whether the names were given to the TV station by the NTSB intern (it was the intern’s prank) or whether the intern acknowledged the names provided by the TV station (in which case the intern was incompetent, but we don’t know whose prank it was)
- How in the world the television station got pranked. Even if the names came directly from the NTSB intern, it seems beyond credulity that no one there noticed what they were saying. I have to imagine someone at the station was at least complicit or willfully blind in pulling off the joke.
- Who the intern at NTSB reported to — while the TV station may have spoken to an intern, it’s unclear how the intern came to be taking media calls, what sort of training they were providing, and who failed in their supervisory duties. Here an unnamed intern is being thrown under the bus, but an NTSB staff member was presumably in charge of that intern and seems to be getting a pass (at least in terms of public blame).
The Mediaite piece identifying the culprit an an intern concludes, “my sources in the NTSB tell me they’ve identified the summer intern in question as Mike Hunt.”