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KTVU imposes ‘gag order’ on employees over gaffe

KTVU has placed a gag order on employees over the Asiana pilots gaffe. (Photo: KTVU, edited by The Desk)
KTVU has placed a gag order on employees over the Asiana pilots gaffe. (Photo: KTVU, edited by The Desk)

The Desk has tried several times to reach KTVU News Director Lee Rosenthal and General Manager Tom Raponi since last week’s unfortunate blunder in which newsreader Tori Campbell misidentified four pilots aboard Asiana Airlines Flight 214.

Those attempts have mostly been unsuccessful, and future attempts may yield the same results now that the station has imposed a so-called ‘gag order’ on all employees — editorial or not — that prevents staffers from speaking out about the gaffe.

San Francisco media journalist Rich Lieberman first reported the ‘gag order’ on Friday morning. The ‘gag order’ reportedly covers “reporters, anchors, editors (and) producers,” along with “the interns and janitors.”

It’s unclear how Lieberman confirmed the existence of the ‘gag order.’

KTVU is owned by Cox Media Group, which owns several other television properties throughout the United States. The Desk reached out to CMG Director of Communications Andy McDill for comment about the ‘gag order’ on Friday.

“I have nothing new on this beyond (the) original apology,” McDill wrote to The Desk.

When The Desk initially contacted Rosenthal for comment on the station’s gaffe on July 12, Rosenthal responded with a link to the station’s online apology. Future attempts for comment were met with silence.

Raponi has not responded to any request for comment.

Campbell misidentified the names of four pilots aboard a plane that crashed earlier in the week at San Francisco International Airport as Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow. Campbell apologized later in the broadcast, claiming the names had been confirmed by a spokesperson with the National Transportation Safety Board (the NTSB would later say that the “spokesperson” was a summer intern).

About one hour later, the gaffe had been posted to YouTube and quickly went viral. The station issued a lengthier apology online with comments from Raponi. That apology was removed for some reason before being republished two hours later.

Four hours after the mistake, the station issued apologies on its Facebook and Twitter profiles, and addressed the issue with a lengthy statement on its evening newscasts.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).