Two hosts of Telemundo’s morning show, Un Nuevo Dia (A New Day), have been suspended for making slant-eye gestures as they celebrated Germany’s World Cup loss to South Korea, which allowed Mexico to advance.
Telemundo announced Thursday that James Tahhan and Janice Bencosme have been placed on indefinite suspension after they were shown on-air a day earlier, using their fingers to stretch their eyes while mocking the South Korean soccer team.
“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,” Telemundo said in a statement. “Our company takes this kind 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,” concluded the statement, which was posted on Twitter in English and Spanish.
Video of the incident shared around social media showed Tahhan, who is known to viewers as “Chef James,” laughing while making the gesture, which is offensive to Asians.
Wearing a team Mexico shirt, the television chef used his fingers to pull his eyes back while celebrating Mexico’s good fortune.
Bencosme laughed, then joined along in making the gesture while the rest of the panel laughed.
Many viewers took to Twitter to complain about the hosts’ behavior, with one writing: “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.”
Following the uproar, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists released a statement Wednesday evening denouncing Tahhan’s behavior.
“Just as we expect fair coverage of Latinos, we are also responsible to portray other communities accurately. We must do better,” the statement said.