CBS apologizes to offended veterans, others for Amazing Race’s “insensitive” Vietnam scenes

The Amazing Race opened with a lengthy apology for last week’s episode, which featured a downed B-52 bomber in Vietnam and, according to the VFW, “reopened an old wound by failing to educate a viewership.” The apology appeared on screen and was read by host Phil Keoghan at the start of the episode:

“Parts of last Sunday’s episode, filmed in Vietnam, were insensitive to a group that is very important to us: our nation’s veterans. 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.”

While the episode’s use of the plane as a mere backdrop and the inclusion of a song praising communism earned attention on Fox News and elsewhere the episode’s, the VFW also sent an open letter to CBS CEO Les Moonves that said, in part, “I hope you can understand our anger at a show that wasted a golden opportunity to educate as well as entertain. … The B-52 scene, as well as the young people singing a propaganda song, was totally unnecessary to the show’s plot, which speaks volumes about naive producers who think they’re in charge when they are not.”

The American Legion also sent a letter to CBS urging a boycott of the series, saying, “We need to send a loud message that we will never again tolerate America’s veterans being disrespected.”

That the network’s apology owns up to parts of the episode being “insensitive” is impressive, as is the prominent placement of it at the start of the episode. But will The Amazing Race learn its lesson and give more attention and respect to the historical places, cultures, locations, and people that the teams encounter?

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.