'Jeopardy!' Issues An Apology Following Controversial Bethlehem Question
The producers of the game show Jeopardy! issued an apology on Monday, January 13, after a question regarding the correct location of Bethlehem that aired on Friday, January 10, sparked controversy amongst rights advocacy groups. The show’s official statement claimed that “human error in post-production” was the cause of the mistake and that an uncorrected version of the show mistakenly aired.
It all began when contestant Katie Needle responded to a question under the “Where’s That Church?” category. After being prompted by a clue about the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where Christians believe to be the birthplace of Jesus, Katie answered Palestine, to which host Alex Trebek said was the incorrect answer.
Shortly after, fellow contender Jack McGuire buzzed in with the answer of Israel, winning him $200. This did not sit well with several Palestinian rights advocacy groups online. While Bethlehem is geographically located in Palestine, it sits on a territory that is occupied by Israel in the West Bank.
On Monday, January 13, producers of the show released a statement to Deadline explaining the error, which they claim was attributed by “human error in post-production.” “In the process of taping this clue, ‘BUILT IN THE 300S A.D. THE CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY’ we became aware that the clue was flawed as written and that determining an acceptable response would be problematic,” the statement read.
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It continued, “In accordance with our rules and in the interest of fairness, we voided the clue and threw it out. We restored Katie’s and Jack’s score to what they were prior to the clue. The outcome of the game was affected.”
The producers also noted, “Unfortunately, through human error in post-production, the uncorrected version of the game was broadcast. We regret the error and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again.”
Twitter users reacted to the mistake, many claiming that the game show sided with Israel on debates surrounding the longstanding geopolitical conflict. One user wrote, “Unacceptable!! Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies (Katie Needle got the correct answer and was robbed) @Jeopardy owes an apology for endorsing Israel’s universally-condemned illegal takeover of Palestinian lands.”
Another user commented, “Hey @Jeopardy—the Church of Nativity is in Bethlehem, which is located in the West Bank which—under international law—is occupied by Israel. The occupied land is also known, under international law as, the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The user added, “Also,Katie is a real one.”