Usually, it is "Amazing Race" contestants with loose lips that stir up controversy for being insensitive, offensive, or ugly Americans while dashing around the less scenic or underprivileged countries of the world on the competition reality show. But with last week's Vietnam-based episode, it was the producers and network that found themselves on the receiving end of public backlash.
Veterans, conservative newscasters, politicians like Arizona Sen. John McCain, and plenty of the show's fans were upset that the show filmed at the site of a crashed U.S. B-52 bomber, and featured a segment where players had to listen to a pro-communist anthem being sung in front of a portrait of Ho Chi Minh and then find one of the song's lyrics in a sea of propaganda posters. Vietnam War veteran and American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz sent a letter to CBS Thursday, asking that the network apologize for "its disgraceful slap-in-the face administered to American war heroes. We only wish that the network would not be so eager to broadcast anti-American propaganda." He encouraged others to voice their criticism and demand an apology as did Fox News Channel host Bob Beckel. "I am so outraged," he ranted on his show "The Five" last week, "If CBS can't do any better than that, to go to a memorial where Americans died, get off the network. Take that show and shove it!"
In response, an apology read by host Phil Keoghan opened last night's episode:
"Parts of last Sunday's episode filmed in Vietnam were insensitive to a group that is very important to us: our nations veterans. We want to apologize to veterans -- particularly those who served in Vietnam -- as well as to their families and any viewers offended by the broadcast. All of us here have the most profound respect for the men and women who fight for our country."
After the mea culpa was broadcast, Koutz responded in a statement, "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. We believe it to be sincere and heartfelt. ... To CBS, I say, 'apology accepted.'"
Just like last week, fans of the series also took to social media to express their thoughts on the controversy, which ran the gamut from still pissed to apology accepted and moving on.
Here are a few sample reactions on Twitter:
@amazingrace_cbs thank you for apology. I am desert storm vet and was very appalled that you made a leg around a crash site of our troops.— Kevin (@kmoss0001) March 25, 2013
Still pissed/shocked/disappointed in CBS for having Amazing Race go thru Vietnam last week.— Derik Briggs (@dirk_nabriggsy) March 25, 2013
Glad to read/hear the #CBSApologize at the top of tonight's Amazing Race episode.— Edward D. McClanahan (@EdMcKrete) March 25, 2013