Mike Richards Out as Jeopardy Host

Well, this escalated quickly.

MSNBC:

“Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards will no longer serve as the next host of the long-running trivia show after controversial past comments surfaced earlier this week.

The Ringer reported Richards made offensive comments about women, Jewish people and people with mental disabilities on a podcast he hosted from 2013 to 2014.

Planned production of the next season of “Jeopardy!” has been temporarily canceled, and the search for a permanent replacement for the late Alex Trebek will resume. Richards said guest hosts will return in order for production on the current season to continue.

“I want to apologize to each of you for the unwanted negative attention that has come to ‘Jeopardy!’ over the last few weeks and for the confusion and delays this is now causing,” Richards said in a memo to staff members of the show. “I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence.”

Sony confirmed that Richards will remain EP of the series.

“We support Mike’s decision to step down as host,” the company said in a statement Friday. “We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward.”

Mayim Bialik, who was named alongside Richards last week, will continue in her role as the host of ‘Jeopardy!’ prime-time and spinoff series.

The Ringer earlier this week detailed derogatory statements made by Richards on “The Randumb Show.” The podcast, which had 41 episodes, was taken offline on Tuesday after he was contacted by The Ringer for comment about the show.

On Thursday, Richards, 46, admitted to “thoughtlessness” and “insensitivity.”

Andrew Samson, the producer of Colin Cowherd’s podcast, had the perfect quip summarizing the situation: “And so, ultimately, the Jeopardy host search failed because the questions came after the answer.”

[UPDATE via SLT]: For some reason (perhaps to avoid dealing with Covid-19 issues or to stop thinking about Afghanistan for a minute), I read this piece from The Ringer: “A Smile With Sharp Teeth”: Mike Richards’s Rise to ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Sparks Questions About His Past. It details not only the comments that caused Richards’ proximate trouble but really paints an overall unflattering picture, including the clear intimation that he weaseled his way into the hosting gig in the first place.

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Entertainment, Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    The Ringer reported Richards made offensive comments about women, Jewish people and people with mental disabilities on a podcast he hosted from 2013 to 2014.

    I read that sentence or similar yesterday and knew how this movie plays out.

    6
  2. James Joyner says:

    @Teve: Yeah. I haven’t seen the specific comments and don’t care enough at this point to bother looking them up. But it’s hard to dismiss as “youthful hijinks” given that he was in his late 30s–and it’s not like 2013 was a different era on these issues.

    9
  3. inhumans99 says:

    Of course some folks will decry that he was “cancelled”, but c’mon, he made these comments on a Podcast so he clearly was putting them out for public consumption. That he did not have the foresight to realize these comments might come back to haunt him really is a you problem not a me problem, if folks get what I am trying to say.

    If I make a particularly ill-fitting/sounding comment on this very site and it eventually comes back to bite me in the tuckus, that is most certainly my problem not James’.

    What I find interesting is that a guy that folks at first said would be a fine Jeopardy host, if not a bit of a bland choice for a host, has a past where he made some alleged inappropriate comments to a pregnant woman on The Price Is Right, and now audio proof of very un-pc (to put it mildly) comments on a fairly recent Podcast (2013 is not THAT far back in time). He is being revealed as just another boorish White dude who when in a position of power thought he could get away with making crude comments to his colleagues.

    Without googling, if I even have a light understanding of the concept of Toxic Masculinity, well… Mike Richards seems to be a perfect example of Toxic Masculinity, but I could be wrong about that.

    3
  4. Neil J Hudelson says:

    Richards comments about the women he worked with were horrible regardless of the terminology he used, but I just want to highlight that he repeatedly used the term “boobies.”

    What grown ass man refers to breasts as “boobies” in any situation?

    9
  5. Kylopod says:

    @James Joyner:

    But it’s hard to dismiss as “youthful hijinks” given that he was in his late 30s

    The classic in this genre is of course Henry Hyde dismissing an extramarital affair he had at age 42 as a “youthful indiscretion.”

    7
  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    He lasted 9/11ths of a “Scaramucci”.

    10
  7. Pylon says:

    Are there any decent Mike Richards? Not the racist actor from Seinfeld, not the party boy NHL player, not the racist/sexist sports talk show host, now this dude.

    This job is reserved for Canadians anyway. Eugene Levy is free right now. He can already do a Trebek impersonation.

    5
  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    ‘Punch-down’ humor ages poorly.

    7
  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Pylon:
    Actually, yes, I know a Mike Richards used to be at Egmont publishing, now works for Pottermore. Smart guy, decent guy. I saw Jim Jeffries with him in Edinburgh. When an audience disturbance broke out I had to explain to him that as an American, I was eyeballing the exit in anticipation of gunfire.

    2
  10. Kingdaddy says:

    Even without the revelations, that picture of him should be captioned, “Is this person a major tool? The answer won’t surprise you.”

    6
  11. Gustopher says:

    @Pylon:

    Are there any decent Mike Richards?

    Really, all the MRs are a little sketchy.

    I was just thinking that I never figured out the difference between this guy’s name and the Kramer actor’s name, and they’re the same? I feel less senile now.

    3
  12. James Joyner says:
  13. Jen says:

    I’m baffled that this wasn’t uncovered BEFORE this announcement was made.

    [Edit: meaning, how did no one do this research before naming him the host? Does nobody do background research anymore?]

    1
  14. Slugger says:

    Our household is a steady viewer of this show. This guy didn’t have much on camera charisma for us. My wife liked Aaron Rodgers; she admitted that Rodgers is not an exceptionally good announcer, but he was the easiest on the eyes of any of the others. We also liked Robin Robert’s enthusiasm. We recognize that Aaron’s other job takes a lot of time, and we think have Robin as a backup would work.
    I don’t know any of the antisemitic remarks that Richards made, but I’m willing to have him say them to my face. This with give him a chance to show genuine contrition, and I am willing to forgive the contrite. Or is he too much of a punk to do so?

  15. Kylopod says:

    @Jen:

    I’m baffled that this wasn’t uncovered BEFORE this announcement was made.

    I guess it takes a little time when the one doing the announcing is also the one being announced.

    2
  16. Jay L Gischer says:

    You know, the only sentence I’ve read about his questioned behavior is this one:

    The Ringer reported Richards made offensive comments about women, Jewish people and people with mental disabilities on a podcast he hosted from 2013 to 2014.

    And so I wonder “isn’t it possible that it’s satire?” Because the internet is notoriously deaf to satire. Like, completely. There’s always someone who doesn’t get the joke. (Some contend that’s the point of satire, but that’s another topic.)

    Now, I’m guessing many of y’all have dug into this further. (I don’t care to, life is too short) and have ruled out the possibility of satire. This can’t possibly be like that thing with the South African woman, can it?

    2
  17. Kylopod says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    And so I wonder “isn’t it possible that it’s satire?”

    I’d want to see the comments in context before I judge, but it’s always going to be a blurry line, since a lot of so-called “edgy humor” is really just old-fashioned bigotry under the guise of being ironic and self-aware. It’s one of the central characteristics of the 4chan trolls.

    I remember when Trevor Noah was first announced as the new Daily Show host to replace Jon Stewart, some people dredged up old comments of his that were perceived as degrading to Jews, women, and others. He apologized and said they were basically jokes that didn’t work; obviously in his case it didn’t derail his career. You might argue he wouldn’t have gotten away with it today, but I think also people are a little more forgiving of professional comedians where there’s long been pressure to be “edgy” and where the mores have changed so dramatically over the past generation that many jokes from 5, 10, 20 years ago have aged very poorly.

    4
  18. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: There’s a Renaissance philosopher named Francis Bacon and a deranged 20th century painter named Francis Bacon. And if you are a weekly reader of the New Yorker this fact will cause you momentary confusions in the middle of a sentence with a surprising frequency.

    3
  19. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: I think we covered this when it happened, but a few months ago one of the first people to get the Pfizer shot died of old age, and his name happened to be Bill Shakespeare, which confused a newscaster from Argentina.

    2
  20. Teve says:

    @Slugger: Jeopardy has 2 shooting days per 2 weeks and shoots 5 episodes per day, so one could fit in other activities.

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kingdaddy: 😀 😛 😀 😛 😀 😛

    1
  22. Gromitt Gunn says:

    “I’ll take ‘Unforced Errors’ for $1,000.”

    [Also, as an important note: none of these issues proved to be disqualifying when they did the background on him when he was hired as EP.]

    1
  23. Kurtz says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: Also, @Jay L Gischer:

    [Also, as an important note: none of these issues proved to be disqualifying when they did the background on him when he was hired as EP.]

    The Ringer report is by a writer whose book on Jeopardy! was released Nov. 2020. It seems reasonable to think that she has pretty well developed sources surrounding the show.
    Reading through her piece at he Ringer, there are some interesting tidbits.

    Richards auditioned to host The Price is Right when Barker was retiring:

    “Of all the people we were trying out, he had the least professional experience,” Roger Dobkowitz, a longtime Price producer, said in 2012 of Richards’s hosting audition. “He knew all the right words to say, but he did not bring anything special, personality or performance-wise, to the test show. His performance was compared to that of an eager student performing in a college show and putting on his best impersonation of what he thinks a game show host is.” Dobkowitz did not respond to The Ringer’s request for comment

    .

    It was an open secret among staff of Let’s Make a Deal that Richards wanted to host Jeopardy!:

    Multiple former Let’s Make a Deal employees have another shared memory of Richards: They say it was common knowledge he wanted to be the host of Jeopardy! One says the topic “was watercooler talk.”

    After Richards was named the executive producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune in 2019, another former Deal employee remembers a supervisor who had worked closely with Richards remarking, “I bet he hires himself.”

    That quip at the end…