Should Jeopardy host Mike Richards have been canceled?
- Mike Richards is an American producer and writer known for working on “The Price is Right,” “Let’s Make a Deal,” and “Jeopardy!,” as well as winning three Daytime Emmy Awards.
- Richards announced his decision to step down as “Jeopardy!” host on Friday, August 20, 2021 after reports of sexist and inappropriate comments surfaced from his role as “The Randumb Show” podcast host in 2013-2014. Richards posted an apology saying, “It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago.”
- Cancel culture is the practice of mass canceling as a form of “expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.” This comes in various forms of calling out behavior on social media, boycotting the public figure in question, and removing their platform and power.
- Alex Trebek, “Jeopardy!’s” iconic former host of 37 years, died of pancreatic cancer in November 2020. His suggestions for successors were CNN legal analyst Laura Coates and NHL sportscaster Alex Faust.
As we've seen with many celebrities, past comments from years or decades ago can still be used against a person now. Newly appointed Jeopardy! host Mike Richards was not safe from this, with recently surfaced media attention regarding 'insensitive' comments that he made about 'Jews, women, and Asians,' among other protected groups. The comments were from a podcast that aired from 2013 to 2014, nearly a decade ago.
Yet the Anti-Defamation League was quick to call for an investigation into Richards, undoubtedly putting a damper on show, which many would simply love to enjoy again after the passing of former host Alex Trebek.
While this may matter to some, Richards made the comments on a comedic podcast between a group of friends, not on live television or another platform with increased visibility. Richards provided an appropriate apology, and questionable episodes from the podcast have since been deleted. However, it appears the damage is done for those who took offense.
While certain content within the podcast was admittedly distasteful, what Richards' humor from years ago is still protected speech today, even if others disagree with it. This is yet another example of how virtually anyone could be scrutinized and potentially 'canceled' in our overly sensitive culture just for being a normal human who makes past and present mistakes. Almost everyone has stereotyped another at one point in their life, which is something society needs to improve upon by moving forward, not drudging up the past of those in the spotlight. Unfortunately, instead of Richards getting a second chance to do better, he ultimately resigned before his career with the show barely started.
According to the Sony Pictures website, one of the core aims of the production company which produces Jeopardy is to 'earn the trust for the Sony brand through ethical and responsible conduct.' Clearly, putting a host who has publicly fat-shamed and taunted women with insults such as 'slut” front and center on a popular television program does not reflect this value. Mike Richards is right to leave the show. Some people will no doubt say this is political correctness run amok or out-of-control cancel culture, but the fact is, there are consequences for behaving this way, and mainstream TV is no place for this type of behavior.
In addition to these comments, Richards has been accused of creating a toxic environment on The Price Is Right and making anti-Semitic and anti-Asian comments. Surely this behavior does not reflect the values of Sony Pictures Television, and his departure should be welcomed. It's somewhat disappointing that Richards was picked to host the show in the first place.
As the long-time producer of the show, his move to hosting stinks of nepotism, particularly after a string of interesting trial hosts from many walks of life took the stage in weeks prior. With problematic host Mike Richards leaving the show, Jeopardy now has the chance to open the show to new audiences by possibly hiring a minority or female host. A more dynamic host may well attract new fans to the show who may have previously perceived the show as the domain of white boomers. Appealing to new audiences would help to keep the show relevant and certainly be good for business.