CBS, under fire from veterans for last week's episode of "The Amazing Race" that featured a segment in Vietnam filmed at the site of a crashed American B-52, opened Sunday's show with an apology.
A billboard read by the program's host Phil Keoghan apologized to veterans, especially those who served in Vietnam, for being "insensitive."
"Parts of last Sunday's episode, filmed in Vietnam, were insensitive to a group that is very important to us — our nation's veterans." he said. "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."
Vietnam War veteran and American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz had on Thursday sent a letter to CBS, asking that the network apologize for "its disgraceful slap-in-the face administered to American war heroes" during a prime time broadcast of the program, “The Amazing Race" on Sunday, March 17.
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In a release, Koutz said, "The show is called ’The Amazing Race,' but I call it ‘The Amazing Gall.’"
"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. The Department of Defense is encouraging Americans to honor and commemorate our Vietnam War veterans for the sacrifice that they made 50 years ago.
"We only wish that the network that once gave us Kate Smith — famous for her rendition of ‘God Bless America’ — would return to its great roots and not be so eager to broadcast anti-American propaganda," said Koutz.
Fox News Channel commentator Robert G. Beckel, a liberal, had repeatedly called for the network to apologize.
Koutz in a statement Sunday thanked people who wrote to CBS.
“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.
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"We believe it to be sincere and heartfelt. We would like to thank the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who supported us through their Facebook comments, tweets, e-mails and phone calls. We would also like to thank Fox News Channel’s Greg Gutfeld for bringing this to our attention and his colleague Bob Beckel.
"To CBS, I say, ‘apology accepted.’”
In the episode, contestants go to a B-52 Memorial, which is the wreckage of an American bomber plane shot down during the Vietnam War, to find the next clue in their televised round-the-world journey.
The twisted metal of the downed plane is treated as any other prop, with a bright ‘Amazing Race’ ‘Double-U-Turn’ signed planted in front of it, signifying to contestants the next phase of their scavenger hunt.
The show also had contestants learn a song that was performed for them by children in front of a portrait of North Vietnam communist leader Ho Chi Minh, with subtitled lyrics that included “Vietnam Communist Party is glorious. The light is guiding us to victory.”
Arizona Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam War veteran, was among those calling for CBS to apologize.
Ira Teinowitz contributed to this report.