NBC Sports executives are disputing reports that Korea analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo has been fired after making a remark deemed offensive during the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony. Ramo was contracted only for the Opening Ceremony and as such, “his assignment ended with the Opening Ceremony,” a network spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. He was never contracted to participate in the Closing Ceremony.
NBC has long employed contributors who can speak to the geopolitical implications for the host country. These voices have typically been confined to the Opening Ceremony, which features the overtly geopolitical tableau of the parade of nations. David Remnick, the New Yorker editor and Russia expert, filled that role during NBC’s coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics; he left shortly after the Opening Ceremony.
But while Remnick garnered positive reviews for his contributions, NBC was forced to apologize for comments by Ramo that seemed to show a flimsy grasp on Korea’s history with Japan. Ramo is a former journalist; he has written for Newsweek and Time. He currently serves as co-CEO of Kissinger Associates, the consultancy founded by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
According to a report by MSN, “Ramo said that ‘every Korean’ respected Japan for their recent achievements as a nation, insinuating that South Korea had forgotten about the 35 brutal years of Japanese rule that ended after World War II.”
According to Jung Min-ho of The Korea Times, the remark angered locals. “His incorrect and insensitive comment about Korea’s history has enraged many of its people,” he wrote. “Tens of thousands of Koreans and non-Koreans alike have criticized Ramo and NBC Sports on their social media, urging them to correct this misinformation and apologize.”
NBC issued the following apology a few hours later on Saturday via anchor Carolyn Manno on NBCSN, according to the MSN report:
“During our coverage of the Parade of Nations on Friday, we said it was notable that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the trip to Korea for the Olympics, ‘representing Japan, a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945 but every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.’ We understand the Korean people were insulted by these comments and we apologize.”
Feb. 12, 12:27 p.m. This story has been updated with information from NBC about whether Ramo was fired.