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'Jeopardy!' says controversial question was accidentally included in broadcast

TODAY logo TODAY 1/14/2020 Phil Helsel
Alex Trebek wearing a suit and tie: Alex Trebek speaks during a rehearsal before a taping of Jeopardy! © Kris Connor Alex Trebek speaks during a rehearsal before a taping of Jeopardy!

"Jeopardy!" said Monday that a question on the quiz show about the location of the Church of the Nativity — which prompted outcry after an answer of Palestine was rejected — was included in Friday’s broadcast in error.

"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."

The scores of the two contestants were restored to what they were prior to the clue, and the outcome of the game was not affected, the show said.

"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 statement on the show's website said.

Contestant Katie Needle answered the question about the location of the church — which Christians think to be the birthplace of Jesus and is in Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank — as "What is Palestine?" Host Alex Trebek's response, a decisive "no," set off a wave of controversy. Another contestant, Jack McGuire answered "What is Israel?" and the $200 was added to his score.

The West Bank is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian rights and advocacy groups criticized the denial that Palestine was the correct answer, and some demanded an apology from the show.

Israel seized land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 war with its Arab neighbors.

The Church of the Nativity is listed as a World Heritage Site and is the oldest basilica in the holy land. It is a popular destination for Christian pilgrims and tourists from across the globe.

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