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Cancel Culture Is Ruining Jeopardy!

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Cancel Culture

Robby Soave | 8.24.2021 9:50 AM

Longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was fond of saying he was not the star of television's foremost quiz program: That distinction belonged to the contestants. But following the beloved showman's death from cancer last year, a series of surprisingly divisive guest-host controversies are undermining Trebek's maxim.

For the last several weeks, Jeopardy! has felt more like a reality TV contest with the permanent hosting gig as the ultimate prize. The show cycled through a seemingly unending list of guest hosts, each of whom were granted one or two weeks' worth of episodes to prove their bona fides. The quality of these would-be replacements varied wildly: Jeopardy! all-time champion Ken Jennings gave a competent performance; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was unexpectedly delightful; TV doctor (and charlatan) Mehmet Oz should not have been given the opportunity in the first place.

But the winners, according to NBC, were Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards and The Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik. The latter was selected to host special tournaments, while the former would host the show on a daily basis.

This outcome did not sit well with some members of the media and Jeopardy!'s fan community, however, so cancel culture did its thing. Last week, following the publication of a hit piece in The Ringer accusing him of all the usual moral failings—chief among them, derisive comments he made on his podcast—Richards abruptly resigned. Bialik is filling in for the meantime, but she, too, has faced attempted cancellation, namely for being a self-described "liberal Zionist" who believes that both Israel and Palestine deserve to be "autonomous, free, and safe" nations.

For many longtime fans—myself among them—this turn of events is embarrassing and insulting to Trebek's memory. NBC certainly deserves some of the blame here: The network could have simply passed the torch to Jennings, who understands the game better than anyone else on earth and was reportedly Trebek's top choice to succeed him, without forcing him to endure this gauntlet. It also appears to be the case that Richards participated in the search process from behind the scenes as executive producer, which made the whole thing look rigged when he was chosen. These were self-inflicted wounds.

But social media's venomous reaction to Richards' casting lacked any sense of proportion, with........

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