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March 24, 2013

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CBS’ Amazing Race Television Show Apologizes to Veterans…

by John Phillips

CBS’ Amazing Race Television Show Apologizes to Veterans…

By

CBS started their broadcast of Amazing Race this week with an apology- apology1apology2

apology3

The show, where contestants “race across the world” vying for one million dollars takes place in a series of countries.  Last week, the reality show contestants were in Hanoi, Vietnam.  The contestants had to pick up a clue  at a Memorial of a downed US B-52 bomber plane shot down during the Vietnam War.  There was no mention, reflection or commentary about it.  Fox News and others critiqued, “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.”

Vietnam B-52 Memorial

Here is what it looks like from tourist photos-

b52

lady of the lake

The Lady of the Lake

Fox News reported four Americans went down with that plane.  Two died.  They glossed over the history almost as quickly as CBS did.  Granted, they didn’t make a “prop” out if it, they just made a money-generating sensational news story out of it- a publicity piece.  Our take?  Both CBS and Fox News were missed a chance to tribute the “Lady of the Lake.”

The story is much more heroic and deserves telling whenever the opportunity arises.  It was apart of “Operation Linebacker II” from December 18-29, 1972.  It has also been called “the December Raids,” and “the Christmas Bombings.”  The intent was to destroy major north Vietnamese target complexes and required soldiers to fly tirelessly.  729 of 741 B-52 sorties completed their missions to bomb North Vietnam.  Ten B-52s were shot down over North Vietnam.  33 B-52 crew members were killed or missing in action, another 33 became prisoners of war, and 26 more were rescued.  It was a big part in the ultimate ending of the war.

This memorial was one of the fallen and the pieces of the bomber remain in Hun Tiep Lake.  It is accurately reported as best as I can tell that two died in this crash, but even that was glossed over to throw more darts at the news media’s rival.  If you are going to feature this, and I say this to Fox News as well, tell the whole story.   Give the full tribute to these men.  Fox News simply called out CBS when it did not really honor these men either.  I am tired of media telling half of the story.

There was also a segment where children sang and danced beneath 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,” which contestants had to memorize.

Vietnam

This surprised me, as I was watching it when it occurred, but if the contestants didn’t mind, why should I?  Granted, we did go to war over this, and I might be offended if later Americans were required to extoll the virtues of Saddam Hussein.  Yet, just because I believe differently doesn’t mean I have to rabidly attack another countries’ culture.  I addressed this in the piece on Saturday Night Live’s Roast of Hugo Chavez Pulled from Replay.  I can differentiate this part from the memorial part, although I can understand people taking offense and will never defend Ho Chi Minh in any way.

I had to ask myself where the line between Fox News’ sensationalism started and their xenophobia (fear of foreigners) ended…  But I am glad they said something.  I then reflected, as I said, of the hypocrisy of Fox News feigning offense, but equally failing to tribute these men.  Regardless, their message was well taken-  We shouldn’t use war and veteran memorials as props to a contest. Period.  It was in bad taste.

So, despite claiming they wouldn’t apologize, I am glad CBS did.  It was the right thing to do.  And an apology for offending those who fought for us is never in bad form.  Thank you.  You are up, Fox News.  Your turn.  Or just tell the whole story.

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