After a week of public outcry and intense scrutiny, CBS has apologized for an episode of Amazing Race which was set in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The March 17 episode showed the twisted wreckage of a downed American B-52 bomber, and used it like any other prop for the race. A “Double-U-Turn” sign was planted in front of it, which directs contestants to the next phase of the scavenger hunt. The scene was criticized by veterans of the Vietnam War and their families for being insensitive, causing CBS to open Sunday’s show with an apology.
Host Phil Keoghan read a billboard at the beginning of the program that apologized to veterans who served in Vietnam for “being insensitive parts of last week’s episode.”
The controversy came to a head when Vietnam vet and American Legion National Commander James Koutz sent a letter to CBS on Thursday, asking them to apologize for “its disgraceful slap in the face administered to American war heroes” during Amazing Race.
“The show is called The Amazing Race, but I call it The Amazing Gall,” Koutz said in a press release.
“In a broadcast reminiscent of Tokyo Rose, reality game show contestants visited a ‘B-52 Memorial’ in Vietnam, which featured the wreckage of a B-52 bomber shot down during the war. What wasn’t shown were the U.S. crewmembers that were killed or the grieving American families that were left behind. The Department of Defense is encouraging Americans to honor and commemorate our Vietnam War veterans for the sacrifice that they made 50 years ago.
“We only wish that the network that once gave us Kate Smith — famous for her rendition of ‘God Bless America’ — would return to its great roots and not be so eager to broadcast anti-American propaganda,” said Koutz.
The apology was hailed as a wise move, but a bit late by commentators.
“I think it’s belated to say the least,” Bob Beckel said on Fox & Friends Monday morning. “[But] they did it at the right time … in prime time.”