CBS apologizes to veterans groups for 'The Amazing Race' Vietnam footage
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/25/2013
CBS has issued an apology to U.S. military veterans who were offended by last week's The Amazing Race broadcast, which featured the competition's teams racing in Vietnam.
"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," the network said in a statement read by The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan at the beginning of Sunday night's broadcast.
"All of us here have the most profound respect for the men and women who fight for our country."
Veterans groups had blasted CBS and demanded an apology following last week's broadcast, which featured The Amazing Race teams using a Hanoi war memorial of a downed American B-52 aircraft as a clue-box location and watching children perform a "patriotic" song about socialism.
"The show is called The Amazing Race, but I call it The Amazing Gall," Vietnam War veteran and American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz wrote in a letter to CBS.
"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."
Koutz even called for a boycott of the show going forward to express the intensity of many veterans' disapproval.
"It's a disgraceful slap-in-the face administered to American war heroes... Vietnam War veterans were maligned enough when they returned to this country. We need to send a loud message that we will never again tolerate America's veterans being disrespected," he added.
John Hamilton, commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), also wrote a furious open letter to CBS.
"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," Hamilton explained in the letter.
"CBS reopened an old wound by failing to educate a viewership about a time in American history that continues to be misunderstood, misrepresented and stereotyped. The Vietnam Generation and our nation deserve and expect much better from your network."
CBS had declined comment on the veterans' complaints prior to last night's episode and had no additional comment after the apology broadcast, according toThe New York Daily News.