Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Exclusive: KTVU Fake Pilot Name List OKed by Station 'Managing Editor Who Wasn't Fired; Station Feared Backlash by SF-Area Asian Community; Source That Provided Fake List Was Ex-Pilot
Several minutes before the moment the fake names of the Asiana Airlines pilots aired prematurely on KTVU News, a veteran staffer-- awarding winning TV News journalist, Roland De Wolk, (one of the four fired at the station over the incident), passed the names over to newsroom staffers whose duty was to make sure the names were authentic, according to a broadcast source close to the station. One of those staffers included the Managing Editor!
The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the story.
"You better check these, (names), out", said De Wolk after he passed the names over to newsroom personnel. KTVU's Managing Editor, Michelle Toy, who saw the list and whose duty, (among normal news procedures), was to read the names out loud, phonetically, raised the issue that the names sounded suspicious. Told that they were confirmed by an NTSB official, (later to be known as an intern), OKed the list. Toy, who is of Asian descent, was not one of the four staffers let go by KTVU and its corporate owner, Cox Media.
Another individual close to De Wolk said that the source that provided the fake pilot's names,(electronically via e-mail or text), was an ex-pilot who had worked with KTVU in the past and was considered to be trustworthy.
I asked the source if the pilot knowingly sent the names as a joke and if so, did the station know? "Apparently not." At least 4-5 people saw the list of names, including anchor, Tori Campbell, who read them on the air on KTVU's Noon Newscast, Friday, July 12th.
Toy, according to the source, made note that even though the downed jetliner was a Korean airline, the pilot, (fake), names were that of Chinese descent. Furthermore, the real names had already been posted on-line and KTVU was one of several news organizations that published them.
So, why then was Toy spared? Said the source: "KTVU didn't want to offend the Asian Community. They'd already did so with the fake name scandal and they were worried about a backlash."
Attempts to reach Toy were unsuccessful.
KTVU management has ignored repeated requests for comment on this and other items related to the story.
De Wolk has hired SF-area attorney, Michael Cardoza, over a wrongful-termination act.
KTVU has placed a gag order on its entire staff regarding the affair. It should be noted that Cox Media sent its own media attorney out to the Bay Area to head an internal investigation into the highly embarrassing incident. An incident that has tarnished KTVU's stellar news product reputation and continues to haunt several of its key personnel, both on and off the air.
**RICH LIEBERMAN 415 MEDIA EXCLUSIVE
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