The interwebs had some choice words for a CNN host who made a racially insensitive comment about the recent spelling bee champ.
People are spelling out their outrage at anchor Alisyn Camerota, who recently interviewed Ananya Vinay, National Scripps Spelling Bee Champion. While challenging the 12-year-old winner to spell President Donald Trump’s infamous tweet typo “covfefe,” Camerota’s conversation with the American student went south as the host jokingly explained the word’s origin.
The anchor, who was co-hosting morning television show “New Day” with Chris Cuomo, implied Ananya knew Sanskrit.
So, we’re not sure that its root is actually in Sanskrit, which is what you’re probably used to using.
“It’s a nonsense word,” Camerota told Ananya, who’s from Fresno, California. “So, we’re not sure that its root is actually in Sanskrit, which is what you’re probably used to using.”
A spokesperson for the network has since responded to the segment in a statement to HuffPost, saying Camerota had joked the word is “based in Sanskrit” in a previous panel. She added that comments didn’t have anything to do with Anaya’s heritage.
“If she’s guilty of anything it’s recycling a joke,” the statement read. “To assign bias to what was a fun and innocent segment celebrating Ananya Vinay’s incredible accomplishment is frankly extremely cynical.”
CNN sent a transcript of the panel to HuffPost, indicating that the host did, in fact, previously deliver the joke, “Is it based in Sanskrit? I’m not sure.” But the transcript doesn’t include the second part of the quip, “which is what you’re probably used to using.”
In any case, viewers and readers are calling out all aspects of the joke as an example of bias.
The remark went viral on social media, where people pointed out how Camerota’s words were inappropriate in the context of speaking to Ananya.
Many accused the host of being racist, emphasizing how saying an American girl of color is “used to” a foreign language was an ignorant move. And some took to Twitter and demanded that Camerota apologize to the spelling champion.
One Twitter user asked whether the host would’ve made a similar remark had the spelling bee winner been of a different background.
And one person summed up what everyone was thinking with this question.