Like the proverbial blind pig who occasionally unearths a truffle, the Fox News Channel has finally stumbled onto a beef with which I am in complete agreement: CBS and the producers of
The Amazing Race
owe Americans, especially Vietnam War veterans, an apology.
There is some consolation in that it was Bob Beckel, the lone liberal voice on The Five, Fox News’ weekday afternoon panel discussion program, who expressed his outrage over the Emmy-winning reality/game show’s use of the wreckage of a downed American B-52 bomber as a prop in last Sunday’s episode, set in Hanoi, and leads the growing number of demands for an apology from CBS.
The program featured a segment in which its globetrotting contestants raced around the wreckage of the bomber, which was shot down in 1972 and put on display in display in the Vietnamese capital as a “memorial.”
The wreckage was treated as a prop, with an Amazing Race “Double-U-Turn” sign placed in front of it.
"Do you realize, CBS, there were four Americans that went down with that plane?" Beckel said Thursday on The Five. "Two of them died."
Beckel said despite calls to CBS head honcho Les Moonves and Amazing Race producer Jerry Bruckheimer, nobody would comment on the controversy.
"There are 850,000 American Vietnam veterans alive today, and you owe them an amazing, big apology," Beckel said.
The episode featured another segment in which the contestants interacting with locals singing a song extolling the virtues of the Vietnamese Communist Party. Lyrics included: “Vietnam Communist Party is glorious. The light is guiding us to victory.” The song is performed in front of a picture of North Vietnam’s late Communist leader Ho Chi Minh.
I agree completely with Beckel. Did it never cross the minds of the show’s producers’ that the cravenly insensitive use of an enemy monument to the killing of Americans would be offensive to viewers, especially those who fought in Vietnam and the families of those who died there? Or do they think that, "Hey, that war was 40 years ago; it’s just some twisted steel and dust, let’s have fun with it?" Are there no other tourist sites in Hanoi that might have been used instead? CBS could certainly have shown the "memorial" or had the contestants visit the site, perhaps with some sober comment on what it represents, but to use it as a prop in a frivolous game was disgusting. What next, CBS, beach volleyball on the USS Arizona Memorial? CBS and the producers of The Amazing Race owe Americans veterans a big apology.
The national commander of the American Legion has joined those who are demanding an apology.
“The show is called ‘The Amazing Race’ but I call it ‘The Amazing Gall,’” Commander James E. Koutz said in a letter to CBS. Koutz called the segment a “disgraceful slap-in-the face administered to American war heroes.”
Viewers have taken to expressing their outrage on CBS’ Facebook page and that of The Amazing Race. Like-minded others may wish to join the thousands who have signed an online petition to CBS.