CNN spokesperson said the comment had nothing to do with the girl’s heritage.
Indian American Ananya Vinay, from Fresno, California, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Her victory has continued the winning streak for the Indian American children for the 10th consecutive year.
However, least expected was the CNN anchor’s jibe over the winner’s race, which most have considered racist.
Alisyn Camerota and Chris Cuomo were hosting New Day after Ananya’s victory on Thursday. Toward the end of the interview, Cumo jokingly asked her to spell ‘covfefe,’ the strange word that appeared on President Donald Trump’s now-deleted tweet.
“It’s a nonsense word. So we’re not sure that its root is actually in Sanskrit, which what you’re probably, uh, used to using, so, I don’t know. Anyway,” Camerota said.
Soon after, the video of the interview started circulating on social media and many people criticized the anchor for assuming Sanskrit is still widely spoken in India; and pointed that her comment was racist.
— CNN (@CNN) June 2, 2017
A CNN spokesperson explained to the Toronto Star that Camoreta’s comment had nothing to do with the girl’s heritage.
“Alisyn made the same joking reference to the root of ‘covfefe’ in an earlier panel discussion that aired Wednesday. If she’s guilty of anything it’s recycling a joke. To assign a bias to what was a fun a fun and innocent segment celebrating Ananya Vinay’s incredible accomplishment is frankly extremely cynical,” the news paper quoted a statement from the channel’s spokesperson.
However, Twitter slammed CNN and Camerota for the comment.
— Patricia (@Patricia_DSC) June 4, 2017
— Rebecca Waysek (@MissWaysizzle) June 4, 2017
@CNN's reporters' default reactions to Ananya Vinay were racism and disrespect, when they easily could have just congratulated her. How sad.
— ʍαℓiทi (@HeyMaliniK) June 4, 2017
— Sara K. Ahmed (@SaraKAhmed) June 4, 2017
Vinay, a sixth grader at Fugmon Elementary School, won after a strong competition with runner-up Rohan Rajeev by spelling the word ‘marocain’ correctly. She received a cash prize of $40,000 and the Bee’s engraved trophy.