Responding to the uproar over a clue on Friday’s episode of “Jeopardy!” about the location of a church in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the show’s producers issued a statement Monday that said the clue had been voided during taping and the uncorrected version of the game was mistakenly broadcast due to “human error in post-production.”
In the version that ultimately aired, the $200 clue under the “Where’s That Church?” category was “Built in the 300s A.D., the Church of the Nativity.” Contestant Katie Needle responded with, “What is Palestine?” which the “Jeopardy!” judges ruled incorrect. Fellow contestant Jack McGuire then responded with “What is Israel?” and was awarded the points.
The episode prompted a furor online, drawing criticism over its handling of the answer. “Unacceptable!! Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies,” tweeted Omar Baddar, deputy director of the Arab American Institute, adding that he believes “Jeopardy!” owed Needle an apology “for endorsing Israel’s universally-condemned illegal takeover of Palestinian lands.”
The West Bank has been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967 and is home to about 2.6 million Palestinians.
But it turns out that the clue was not supposed to air at all. “Jeopardy!” producers apparently determined the clue to be “flawed” during the taping and threw it out entirely, replacing it with a clue about the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe — a move that did not impact the game’s final results.
“Jeopardy!” issued the following statement on its website on Monday afternoon:
“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. 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. We then continued the game with this replacement clue. 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.”
The replacement clue was “The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” which Jack then answered correctly with “What is Mexico?”