CBS Apologizes for ‘Amazing Race’ Hanoi Scene

by | March 25, 2013 at 9:49 AM | The Amazing Race, TV News

Father-son "Amazing Race" competitors David (left) and Connor O'Leary outside the Vietnam National Museum of History in Hanoi earlier this month (Photo: CBS)

CBS and “The Amazing Race” apologized Sunday night for a scene shown a week earlier that used a downed American bomber in Vietnam as a backdrop.

The wreckage of the Vietnam War-era B-52 long-range bomber is the centerpiece of a memorial in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

It memorializes the victims of the American bombing of that city during the war.

On the globe-trotting CBS reality series, one of the stops on the worldwide trek in the episode seen March 17 was a visit to the memorial site, where the competitors received instructions on where to venture next.

The use of the wreckage in this way offended some — particularly because American Air Force personnel likely perished in the crash.

For the better part of the past week, veterans groups and Fox News Channel personalities demanded that CBS apologize. Lo and behold, CBS agreed, and aired an apology at the beginning of the “Amazing Race” episode this past Sunday (March 24).

“Parts of last Sunday’s episode, filmed in Vietnam, were insensitive to a group that is very important to us — our nation’s veterans,” said host Phil Keoghan at the outset of the show. “We want to apologize to veterans — particularly those who served in Vietnam — as well as to their families and any viewers who were offended by the broadcast. All of us here have the most profound respect for the men and women who fight for our country.”

The veterans’ group that had been the most vocal on the issue pronounced itself satisfied with the network’s apology, according to an account of the controversy on TheWrap.com.

“America is a forgiving country. When you make a mistake, you own up to it. The American Legion applauds CBS and ‘The Amazing Race’ for its apology,” said a statement issued Sunday night by American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz. “We believe it to be sincere and heartfelt. We would like to thank the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who supported us through their Facebook comments, tweets, e-mails and phone calls. We would also like to thank Fox News Channel’s Greg Gutfeld for bringing this to our attention and his colleague Bob Beckel. To CBS, I say, ‘apology accepted.’”

Beckel and Gutfeld spoke out about the issue on their Fox News talk show “The Five.” They were likely responding to the outcry initiated last week by Koutz, who was outraged over the B-52 scene.

“The show is called ’The Amazing Race,’ but I call it ‘The Amazing Gall,’” Koutz said then in a prepared statement. “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.”