'Amazing Race' apologizes to Vietnam War vets
ATLANTA (CNN) — CBS apologized to its viewers on Sunday after receiving criticism for a recent "The Amazing Race" episode set in Vietnam.
The reality competition, now in its 22nd season, visited the country for its March 17 installment. One segment took place at a war memorial in Hanoi and included footage of a wrecked U.S. B-52 bomber. Participants, who were looking for clues at the location, also heard a North Vietnamese Communist song.
The segment brought in upset responses from some viewers, including open letters from the commander in chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, John Hamilton, and American Legion National Commander James Koutz.
"I hope you can understand our anger at a show that wasted a golden opportunity to educate as well as entertain," Hamilton wrote to CBS president and CEO Les Moonves. "The scene with the B-52 wreckage could have been used to tell a story about what was then America's longest war, about the 58,195 American names on the Vietnam Wall, about the 1,652 Americans still listed as missing-in-action, or about the fates of the multiple crewmen aboard each of the 17 American B-52s we lost in combat. 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 naïve producers who think they're in charge when they are not."
Koutz wrote, "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. The American Legion takes this obligation very seriously."
In response, CBS and "The Amazing Race" apologized for the scenes ahead of Sunday's edition of "The Amazing Race."
"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 their families and any viewers who were offended by the broadcast," the statement said. "All of us here have the most profound respect for the men and women who fight for our country."
On "The Amazing Race's" Facebook page, viewers seemed divided over the reaction the segment has received. Some understood Hamilton's point of view, and noted how offensive they found the scenes.
"Glad they posted this as it was very offensive for a child of a Vietnam Veteran to see and hear that song!" said one Facebook user.
"I was appalled," said another. "I remember the (war) like it was yesterday and my family was deeply scarred by it. I'm glad they issued an apology, at least."
Others, meanwhile, said those offended were overreacting.
"Get over yourselves!" said one viewer. "This is a show to showcase the world, not to walk on eggshells because some a******s might get a tad too prissy."
"This was nice of CBS. I had two brothers who fought and served over there but I in no way found it offensive," said one Facebook user. "This Navy Mom will say it again, it's always good to see other countries and their cultures. Makes ya see just how GREAT our country truly is!"
A viewer named Debra tried to find a middle ground: "For those who say no reason to apologize, let's just put this another way -- have you ever said or done something personally wrong (or perceived wrong) that offended or bothered somebody. Perhaps a friend or acquaintance? When you find out you are the cause of their anger, do you apologize and say that wasn't your intention? Or do you say get over it?"
Both the American Legion's Koutz and the VFW's Hamilton have accepted CBS's apology.
-- CNN's Douglas Hyde contributed to this report.