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NTSB Blames “Summer Intern” For Confirmation Of Fake Asiana 214 Names

That epic prank that someone pulled on Bay Area TV station KTVU? The National Transportation Safety Board is blaming a “summer intern” for their part in it.

From the NTSB:

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.

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. We work hard to ensure that only appropriate factual information regarding an investigation is released and deeply regret today’s incident.

Appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.


Shit rolls downhill, of course, but the second paragraph here seems like ass-covering buck-passing of the highest order, the kind one would expect from government employees looking to distance themselves from falling for a dumb and racist hoax. This release would accomplish the exact same thing without that second paragraph—except for blaming a “summer intern” for acting “outside the scope of his authority.”

That intern probably does deserve some blame, whether his error was malicious—KTVU calls up NTSB with a list of names from a prankster, intern thinks names are funny and goes through with it—or a mistake made under pressure. (Got another possibility? Let us know.) But even if the intern willfully aided in the hoax, why throw him on the sword? Wouldn’t that notoriety be what a troll would want?

And if the intern just made a mistake, blaming an underling seems like a curious way to express deep regrets for this error; this is and rightly should be a shame for the NTSB, because their training or intern selection or supervision is ultimately at fault, too. Pictured at the top of this is NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman, who became the youngest person to ever hold the position when appointed by Barack Obama in 2009. One wonders if she would have gotten there had she been blamed for something in a national press release when she was a summer intern for Virginia Congressman Bob Wise in 1999.

Update: Commenter waykwlk notes that the NTSB also told SFGate that this was essentially KTVU’s fault:

However, in a subsequent phone interview with the SFGate’s Jeff Elder, NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel made clear that the names “originated at the media outlet” and that the intern — unaware of the offensive names — was “acting in good faith and trying to be helpful” by confirming names he didn’t know.



Photo credit: AP Images

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