Jeopardy! Addresses Controversial Bethlehem Question Amid Backlash: 'We Regret the Error'
The producers of Jeopardy! are setting the record straight about a contentious question that aired during Friday’s episode, in which it seemingly deemed that Bethlehem is located in Israel and not Palestine in its answer.
The controversy began when contestant Katie Needle responded to a question under the “Where’s That Church?” category. When prompted by a clue about the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where Christians believe to be the birthplace of Jesus, she answered Palestine — which host Alex Trebek said was incorrect.
Fellow contestant Jack McGuire was rewarded with $200 for buzzing in with the answer of Israel moments later, causing an uproar among Palestinian rights advocacy groups online.
Bethlehem is geographically located in Palestine, but sits on a territory currently occupied by Israel in the West Bank.
On Monday, producers released a statement to Deadline to explain the gaff, attributing the broadcast of the question to “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. “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 scores to what they were prior to the clue. The outcome of the game was not affected.”
“Unfortunately, through human error in post-production, the uncorrected version of the game was broadcast,” the producers said. “We regret the error and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again.”
Jeopardy! since also released a video of what should’ve replaced the question, which featured a clue about the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico.
Twitter users were quick to weigh in last week, saying the game show sided with Israel on debates surrounding the longstanding geopolitical conflict.
“Unacceptable!! Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies (Katie Needle got the correct answer & was robbed),” one user tweeted. “@Jeopardy owes an apology for endorsing Israel’s universally-condemned illegal takeover of Palestinian lands.”
“Hey @Jeopardy — the Church of Nativity is in Bethlehem, which is located in the West Bank which — under international law — is occupied by Israel,” another wrote. “The occupied land is also known, under international law, as the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
That user added, “also Katie is a real one.”
Needle responded to that tweet, writing, “Thanks! Palestine should be free.”