Two of Telemundo’s morning show personalities will be off the air indefinitely.
Telemundo has suspended “Un Nuevo Día” morning show chef James Tahhan and metereologist Janice Bencosme after they made racist gestures live on the air – an image that was captured and shared by Latino viewers on social media, where they expressed their outrage.
Chef James made slant-eyed gestures, something mimicked briefly by Bencosme, while all the TV hosts were laughing and clapping as they celebrated Korea’s win in the World Cup yesterday. That win allowed the Mexico national team to advance to the next round.
— Carlos Robles (@core787) June 27, 2018
Dear @Telemundo @TelemundoSports & @TLMDPR , whoever this guy is on the left needs to get fired ASAP for being a racist on air. If someone were to say or make racist gestures about Latinx folks we’d ALL be up in arms & this is no different #SayNoToRacism #TelemundoMundial pic.twitter.com/SvzSednPAd
— Miguel Hernandez (@Techivist) June 27, 2018
.@UnNuevoDia @TLMDPR @TelemundoNews
Is this who we are when we’re not accusing others of racism? Muy bien 👏👏👏#Racismo #hipocresía #TelemundoMundial #telemundo#ignoranteespoco pic.twitter.com/ggsEUgBh1x
— Dru!¡ (@Dru623) June 27, 2018
“We are extremely disappointed with our morning show contributors James Tahhan’s and Janice Bencosme’s gestures referring to the South Korean national soccer team. Our company takes this type of inappropriate behavior very seriously as it is contrary to our values and standards. As a result, both James Tahhan and Janice Bencosme have been placed on an indefinite suspension,” states a Telemundo spokesperson.
Chef James issued an apology on his social media accounts and read it on the air on today’s show:
“During the celebration for the classification of Mexico, I made a mistake and made an inappropriate and insensitive gesture towards the Asian community. It was a lack of sensitivity on my part. I admit that I did something wrong and wanted to apologize to anyone who was offended by it. The World Cup is a great opportunity to bring together friends, strangers, families and entire countries, and not to divide our communities.”
— James Tahhan (@ChefJames) June 28, 2018
Bencosme also apologized on her social accounts later in the day – both in Spanish and English.
— JaniceBencosme (@JaniceBencosme) June 28, 2018
Chef James is from Venezuela. Bencosme is from the Dominican Republic.
This isn’t the first time that Spanish-language TV personalities make or say racist comments.
Leading up to the World Cup in 2010, Univision’s morning show “Despierta América” did a mind-blowingly inappropriate parody skit with the show’s hosts wearing black Afro wigs with spears dancing to “African” music as a way to promote the sporting event in South Africa. It caused outrage among the African American community. Univision apologized.
In 2015, Univision fashion commentator and TV host Rodner Figueroa was fired for racist comments about first lady Michelle Obama during the network’s live afternoon entertainment and gossip show. Figueroa apologized.
Last year, Telemundo hired Figueroa as an entertainment reporter.
* Story was updated to add Bencosme’s apology.