NBC says no offense was intended by a poorly timed promotional ad featuring a monkey on gymnastics rings that aired on the network directly following a commentary by Bob Costas on Gabby Douglas' gold medal inspiring other African-American girls to take up the sport.
The gymnastics-themed ad for the upcoming NBC comedy "Animal Practice" was specifically timed to run late Thursday night following the women's gold medal competition. NBC said it was scheduled to run before the network knew about Costas' commentary.
"Much of America has fallen in love with Gabby Douglas," Costas said. "Also safe to say that there are some young African-American girls out there who tonight are saying to themselves, 'Hey, I'd like to try that, too.'"
Then NBC switched to the commercial with the small, widely grinning monkey on the rings. Blacks in the past have been disparagingly referred to as monkeys to the point where it is considered a common slur.
"Gabby Douglas' gold medal performance last night was an historic and inspiring achievement," NBC Universal spokeswoman Liz Fischer said. "The spot promoting 'Animal Practice,' which has run three times previously, is one in a series with an Olympic theme, which have been scheduled for maximum exposure. Certainly no offense was intended."
It's the second time during the Olympics that a promotional ad has proven troublesome for NBC. It ran a "Today" show promo showing swimmer Missy Franklin holding her first gold medal a few minutes before airing the race where she won it.
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