Wednesday, July 17, 2013

'Pranked' TV Station Faces Defamation Suit from Asiana Airlines

Asiana Airlines(OZ/AAR) Airbus A320-200
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Still reeling from the July 6 crash-landing of its Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport that killed three and injured 180, Asiana Airlines is in no mood for puerile racist humor, and will file a defamation suit against the "pranked" Oakland TV news station that aired an erroneous story about the disaster, according to reports by CNN and the Associated Press.

KTVU-TV anchor Tori Campbell promptly apologized on-air after the station named and displayed a graphic identifying the pilots of the ill-fated Korean flight with the bogus names of Wi Tu Lo, Ho Li Fuk, Sum Ting Wong and Bang Ding Ow. The station, a CNN affiliate, said a National Safety Transportation Board official, who later proved to be an unidentified summer intern, confirmed the accuracy of the offensive names before the station ran the information. The NTSB has also issued an apology.

Asiana Airlines said it planned to take legal action because it was "demeaned" by the racially discriminatory account of the crash by KTVU-TV. Poor taste, however, is not the standard for prevailing in a defamation case, and it's difficult to envision how Asiana Airline's reputation was damaged by the false report. Except for the station's news executives who were asleep at the wheel, most people who heard the account probably did not believe the ridiculous names. Neither could KTVU-TV be found liable for actual malice, because, although it didn't distinguish itself journalistically by falling for the cruel prank, it did, nonetheless, attempt to corroborate the phony names by contacting the NTSB, a sound journalistic practice.

Asiana Airlines would be better served by reviewing its flight training practices than by bringing dubious face-saving lawsuits, and the doofus responsible for the wacky monikers might consider how he or she would explain to the survivors and family members of the Flight 214 fatalities why his or her attempt at humor was so screamingly funny.
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