During a TODAY Show segment Wednesday, the talk show co-hosts discussed the fake sign language interpreter featured on television during the Nelson Mandela memorial service who literally rubbed elbows with the leader of the free world.
Unfortunately, a spoof undertaken during the NBC live broadcast by a TODAY show producer went horribly wrong.
While Natalie Morales, Willie Geist and Al Roker talked about the imposter getting within feet of President Barack Obama during his speech in South Africa, a small circle was superimposed showing a man pretending to sign what they were saying.
It was during the 9:00 hour that the attempt at humor fell flat. It appears that the co-hosts may not have been in on the joke until they caught sight of the producer on the studio monitors. Morales exclaimed, "That is horrific." It remains unclear if she was referring to the fake interpreter or the thoughtless joke.
Not long afterward the peacock network received an avalanche of complaints, prompting the trio to do damage control less than an hour later. Looking grave, Geist said, "We aired a joke in our 9:00 hour that was offensive. We apologize to our viewers."
Al and Natalie both murmured their own regrets though they never acknowledged the source of the controversy.
They followed up on social media with this:
It didn't take long to figure out what had offended the sensibilities of the morning show crowd.
Check out the controversial TODAY Show segment below:
Photos: Video Screen Grabs