CNN Takes Heat Over Sanskrit Quip

Host Alisyn Camerota's joke to Indian-American spelling bee champ falls flat
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2017 8:46 AM CDT
CNN Takes Heat Over Sanskrit Quip
Critics took to Twitter to criticize the Sanskrit quip.   (Twitter )

CNN is taking heat after a host assumed a teen spelling bee champ of Indian descent was "used to using" Sanskrit. The Washington Post reports the exchange occurred on the network's "New Day" program following 12-year-old Ananya Vinay's victory at Thursday night's 90th annual Scripps Howard Spelling Bee. After asking Ananya to spell "covfefe," hosts Alisyn Camerota and Chris Cuomo joked that President Trump's "nonsense word" has dubious origins. "We’re not sure that its root is actually in Sanskrit, which is what you’re probably, uh, used to using," Camerota told Ananya, who was born and raised in Fresno, Calif. Criticism that Camerota's quip was insensitive and "racist" swept social media. "If she were Jewish would you say 'your real language is Hebrew?'" one woman tweeted.

"Are you serious @CNN?" tweeted another. "That's some straight racism there." Sandip Roy writes in Huffington Post India that while "there's nothing wrong with Ananya Vinay being used to" the ancient language of the Hindu scriptures, "the presumption that (Ananya) must be familiar with her Sanskrit just reeks of the assumption that she is still more Indian than American." He compares it to Camerota being asked if "she was probably used to Latin." CNN dismissed the dust-up, per HuffPo, calling the segment "fun and innocent" and noting that Camerota was following up an earlier joke about "covfefe's" roots. "If she's guilty of anything it's recycling a joke," the network said. (Ananya nailed her bee win with this word. Meanwhile, Americans find these words vexing.)

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