Popular game show Jeopardy! has come under fire for allegedly taking a position on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The bizarre saga began when a question was asked about the exact location of the Church of the Nativity – a holy site thought to be near the birthplace of Christ.
When contestant Katie Needle replied with the answer, “What is Palestine?” she was told that was the wrong answer; but when opponent Jack McGuire interjected with, “What is Israel?” he was quickly awarded the $200. McGuire was confident in his answer and the show kept moving. In contrast, Needle looked utterly bewildered by the exchange.
Could be one of my favorite Jeopardy moments of all time pic.twitter.com/2gpVLpDWlR— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) January 11, 2020
The brief moment prompted an outcry from various pressure groups who accused the show of openly denying the existence of territory they believe to be rightfully Palestinian. According to the Bible, Bethlehem is a town located in Judea and Samaria, however, in today’s context, it is considered to be part of the Palestinian-controlled “Area A” of the West Bank.
Following the outcry, Jeopardy quickly asserted that the question was actually never meant to make it to air.
“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 show said in a statement.
“In accordance with our rules and in the interest of fairness, we voided the clue and threw it out.”
However, due to a “human error in post-production,” the “uncorrected version of the game was broadcast,” they said. “We regret the error, and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again," the show concluded.
In an interview with the Daily Wire, contestant Jack McGuire recalled the mayhem that engulfed the studio following the controversial segment.
“McGuire explained that, following Trebek guiding the program into commercial break, there was a significant huddle on-stage — perhaps around eight minutes, McGuire estimated — between the show’s compliance, legal, and stage manager officers,” the Daily Wire noted in its report.
“The Jeopardy! judges decided to scrap the clue and return the two players’ scores to what they had been immediately before. They then re-ran the segment with a new clue (which McGuire also answered correctly): “Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
McGuire added that he held conservative and libertarian political views, and that he “firmly stands with Israel, now and for all time.”
Needle, however, has espoused openly pro-Palestinian views on social media.
“Palestine should be free,” she tweeted Friday.
Despite his show being thrust into the epicenter of a media storm, the show’s much-loved host, Alex Trebek, has yet to comment publicly on the controversy.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Amanda Edwards/Stringer
Will Maule is a British journalist who has spent the past several years working as a digital news editor. Since earning a degree in international relations and politics, Will has developed a particular interest in covering ethical issues, human rights and global religious persecution. Will's work has been featured in various outlets including The Spectator, Faithwire, CBN News, Spiked, The Federalist and Christian Headlines. Follow him on Twitter at @WillAMaule.