“Jeopardy!” producers have gone into damage control to contain and explain a “flawed” clue about the Church of the Nativity on Friday’s show that tipped the game show into contentious global politics.
The topic under discussion dealt with the location believed to be Jesus’ birth: “BUILT IN THE 300s A.D., THE CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY” was a $200 clue under the category “Where’s That Church?”
The show’s aired response to the contestant answers led to a firestorm of social media controversy. “Jeopardy!” producers said in a message on the show’s website Monday that the entire section had already been negated, and was supposed to have been removed from the telecast.
“Unfortunately, through human error in post-production, the uncorrected version of the game was broadcast,” the statement said. “We regret the error and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again.”
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In the show that aired, the clue featured contestant Katie Needle buzzing in first and replying to the clue, “What is Palestine?” Host Alex Trebek said that was incorrect and she was docked $200. Another contestant, Jack McGuire, then buzzed in, replying “What is Israel?”
Trebek accepted this as correct and McGuire was initially granted $200.
The World Heritage Site Church of the Nativity is located in Bethlehem, which is in the Israeli-controlled West Bank. Palestinians consider the area to be illegally occupied land. The United States and most of the European Union do not recognize Palestine as a state.
James J. Zogby, founder and director of the Arab American Institute, was one of the many critics of the show’s initial ruling, calling it “outrageous” on Twitter.
“If ‘Israel’ had been the answer, it would have been bad enough,” Zogby wrote. “But the fact that (Needle) gave ‘Palestine’ as the thought answer and was told it was wrong makes this an outrage & an insult to history, reality, the thousands of oppressed Palestinians of Bethlehem”
The “Jeopardy!” statement made it clear that the producers immediately erased the question and filmed a new clue.
“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 message read.
In accordance with the show’s rules “and in the interest of fairness, we voided the clue and threw it out,” the statement read.
Needle’s and McGuire’s scores were restored to the the monetary level “prior to the clue. The outcome of the game was not affected.”
“We then continued the game with this replacement clue,” the statement concluded.
Here’s the clue that producers intended to show.
The answer made little difference in the final result. Needle, who was in the lead, ended up winning Friday’s game.