No doubt, you are already familiar with the Bay Area Fox News affiliate, KTVU epic blunder in its coverage of Asiana flight 214. Its noon news anchor announced breaking news – the names of the cabin crew of the ill-fated flight: Sum Tin Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow.
As a Bay Area resident who has watched KTVU News at 10 pm for over 20 years, I feel that I must speak up in defense of its noon news anchor, Mae B. O’Blivious. The journalism skills of Ms. O’Blivious should not be singled out as an exception to the general quality of reporting that now prevails at KTVU.
During the Occupy movement, one of Ms. O’Blivious’s colleagues showed a clip of the protesters at UC Davis sitting peacefully on the ground as they were pepper sprayed by a campus police officer. The newscaster said the words, “violence from the Occupy protesters.” I sent an email to KTVU, and they never felt the need to make an apology.
Another reporter covering a management lockout of sanitation workers referred to it as a “walkout.”
Another colleague of Ms. O’Blivious covered the issue of restaurant workers who were so inconsiderate of the well-being of the general public that they were actually rude enough to show up for work when they were sick. He interviewed only restaurant owners and management, no workers. And he forgot to ask if they provided paid sick leave.
This same reporter distinguished himself with his coverage of the Iraq war during the Bush years. KTVU often sent him out to interview military families, because of his sympathetic demeanor. In a syrupy voice, he asked them about their stresses and never forgot to slip in the question – “Is there anything you would like to say to the anti-war protesters?” He never failed to illicit some variation of “ungrateful for our sacrifice.”
During its recent coverage of the BART strike a KTVU report interviewed a working couple who complained of how inconvenienced they were by the strike and said the BART workers should be grateful they had a job. I was also inconvenienced by the BART strike, spent double the time driving to work on back roads to avoid the traffic jams on Highway 24, and the MacArthur maze. But I still supported the strike. However, KTVU interviewed no one like me. I guess they couldn’t find any commuters in the San Francisco Bay Area who were pro-labor.
Now, you might say, okay, that’s bias. KTVU works too hard to maintain a narrative of ungrateful workers and anti-war protesters. But, OMG, the names of the flight crew – that takes sloppiness to a whole new level. How could anyone, you might ask, look straightfaced into a camera and announce that the names of the crew members were: Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow, and be so – oblivious – to what she was saying?
In defense of Ms. O’Blivious, I must say several things. First, picky, picky, picky. Do you have any idea of how many people were saying, “ho lee fu*k,” as they watched her newscast? I know I was saying it, and I’ll bet you were too. It is entirely unfair to single out Ms. O’Blivious just because she happened to be the one to utter those three syllables on the air. Second, (with apologies to Tina Fey), you are probably paying way too much attention to the words she was saying and the order she put them in. That is something we loyal viewers of KTVU stopped doing years ago. Third, I must place the blame for this squarely where it belongs – on any viewer gullible enough to seek news coverage from Fox or anything affiliated with it. Fourth, do you have any idea of the stress involved when news breaks?
Mae B. O’Blivious had blonde highlights to check and mascara to touch up. Her lipstick had to be a precise shade somewhere on the spectrum of pink to red. Then she had to check her news copy, rush over to the anchor chair, look into the camera and convey an aura of glamour as she read from the teleprompter with an air of gravitas. Do you have any idea of how difficult it is to do all of that while you’re wondering if your hoop earrings are too big?
I say hooray for Ms. O’Blivious. KTVU hired her to break news, and God bless her, she did it. If any of you want to pick on her because of that news copy and, you know, fact-checking. Well, that’s what we have Jon Stewart for.
Oh, wait a minute, breaking news! This just in – premiering Monday, KTVU will follow its noon news with a cooking show, Egg on Face.