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KTVU Fires Staffers Over Fake Asiana Pilot Names Fiasco

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An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 airplane lies burned on the runway after it crash landed at San Francisco International Airport July 6, 2013. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 airplane lies burned on the runway after it crash landed at San Francisco International Airport July 6, 2013. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – A Bay Area TV news report which listed racially-offensive, fake Asiana Airline pilot names has cost three veteran staff members their jobs.

KTVU-TV has fired investigative producer Roland De Wolk, special projects producer Cristina Gastelu and producer Brad Belstock over their roles in the phony news report on the names of the pilots involved in the crash of Asiana flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport.

The firings were first reported by Bay Area media blogger Rich Lieberman.

The July 12th KTVU report turned into a Internet sensation with clips of the broadcast quickly spreading across YouTube and social media.

KTVU’s parent company, Cox Communications has recently sent copyright infringement notices to YouTube demanding that the video clips be removed.

Sources told KCBS and KPIX 5 political reporter Phil Matier that the fake names – which had been floating around the Internet days prior to the TV report – were emailed to KTVU by an expert source who had provided information to the station in the past.

“One of the real ironies of this, two of the names of the pilots had been in the news for days before this,” Matier said, adding it was now clear the e-mail was not a hoax targeting the station or a joke that had been circulating internally.

It is unclear whether the expert source might have forwarded the e-mail as a joke, he said.

“I’m not sure we’re ever going to get the complete answers to that because lawyers are involved right now,” said Matier. “And you’ve got corporate coming in from Cox Communications working this thing. You had a systematic failure, alright? It’s called stupid.”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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