Mike Richards not hosting Jeopardy: easy victory we needed

Because the saying goes, nothing unites folks like a typical enemy. In a nation riven by poisonous discord on all fronts, Mike Richards briefly stuffed that needed position.

Earlier than August 4, the day he was revealed as frontrunner for changing the late Alex Trebek on Jeopardy!, Richards was comparatively unknown. Common viewers of the decades-running present would have seen his guest-hosting tenure earlier this yr, whereas die-hard recreation present addicts may need caught him hosting The Pyramid and Divided on GSN. Exterior of the sport present world, although, the place Richards has additionally labored as an government producer on reveals like The Worth Is Proper for a few years, he was removed from a family identify.

That each one modified with Richards’s emergence as high contender for the hosting slot.


At first, the principle knock towards him was {that a} seemingly random telegenic white man was taking a job from ebullient aspiring Jeopardy! host and fan favorite LeVar Burton. Nonetheless, nearly every single day for the reason that preliminary discover about Richards has introduced extra causes for additional outrage. To start with, there was the truth that, as government producer, Richards had a hand in selecting Trebek’s replacement. Despite the fact that he stepped except for that position as soon as he “emerged as a candidate,” he nonetheless oversaw his rivals’ auditions for the position.

As the New York Times reported: “[A]s government producer, Mr. Richards retained a key position in choosing which appearances by every potential host can be screened for focus teams, whose reactions weighed closely in Sony’s decision-making, in response to three folks conversant in the present’s inside deliberations. The opposite supervising ‘Jeopardy!’ producers have been excluded from that course of, the folks stated.”

Past having the chance to place his thumb on the dimensions in favor of himself, additional particulars from Richards’s previous quickly surfaced. Throughout his time at The Worth Is Proper, two of the present’s fashions filed pregnancy discrimination lawsuits towards the manufacturing crew. Richards issued an announcement, saying that these lawsuits “Do not reflect who I am.” In an effort to blunt mounting criticism about Richards’s attitudes towards girls, when Jeopardy! officially announced him as host on August 12, the present additionally touted Mayim Bialik as a secondary host. What did it matter if Bialik was merely hosting the occasional primetime particular whereas Richards was certainly stepping in to fill Trebek’s sneakers each day? A lady can be hosting in some capability! Feminism!

The announcement was not obtained warmly, to say the least. It doesn’t matter what type of political bubble one has fortified themselves inside, anti-Richards sentiment possible permeated it. He appeared to have only a few distinguished defenders on-line, with folks like Ken Jennings solely conceding that it’s preferable to have a number no one “knows anything about.”

The sick will towards Richards lastly peaked on Wednesday, August 18, when reporting by The Ringer surfaced a number of inappropriate feedback he’d made on a podcast a number of years in the past—a podcast that was deleted completely through the course of The Ringer’s reporting. These feedback ranged from casually anti-Semitic to casually misogynist, and different types of informal offense that collectively counsel The Worth Is Proper lawsuit does precisely mirror who Richards is.

From the second The Ringer printed its report, the brand new host’s destiny appeared all however sealed. When Richards announced he was stepping down on Friday, August 20, it felt like a mere formality.

That’s not all that it felt like, nonetheless. For many people on the internet, Richards appear to symbolize one thing extra than simply an unpopular host on a beloved TV program; he briefly turned the white-hot apotheosis of the whole lot unfair on the planet. One other victory for males. One other victory for white males. One other victory for insider elites. Take your decide. The distaste for Richards was intersectional.


Maybe what made rooting towards Richards really feel private and essential, although—even for folks like myself who haven’t watched Jeopardy! in 20 years—is that in contrast to the precise difficult catastrophes at present plaguing our world, this battle appeared eminently winnable. Every new awkward truth revealed about Richards inched us one step nearer to the “grand opening, grand closing” state of affairs many on the web actively clamored for. It’s inconceivable to persuade staunch nativists that Afghan refugees must be welcomed in America. It’s inconceivable to persuade legions of avowed anti-vaxxers to collectively change their minds. But when sufficient folks have been Mad On-line about Mike Richards directly, maybe America may get the Jeopardy! host it most popular—or not less than not get the one it didn’t.

The announcement of Richards’s getting the identical not-so-fast that the delta variant placed on our fall plans landed like a glitter bomb of infectious pleasure. It provided the form of really satisfying schadenfreude catharsis that the phenomenon of anti-vaxxers dying from COVID-19 is much too unhappy to supply. LeVar Burton’s shady commentary on the information was simply the cherry on high. Right here was a tiny victory folks of all stripes may share collectively, as finally empty is it’s fleeting.