Culture

New 'Jeopardy!' Host Mike Richards Resigns Amid Controversy After Comments Resurface

Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File

Researchers who devote their lives to finding stuff to be outraged about have claimed another scalp. Mike Richards, the new host of the game show Jeopardy! was forced to resign when some offensive comments he made on podcasts in 2013-14 about Jews and women surfaced in the publication The Ringer.

All 41 episodes of “The Randumb Show” podcast have been deleted but not before several choice quotes about Richards’ co-host surfaced, including referring to her as “a booth-ho.”

Richards is no stranger to controversy. In addition to his work as executive producer of Jeopardy!, he also served in that capacity on the popular daytime game show The Price is Right, where he was accused of insensitive remarks and worse.

Variety:

Per The Ringer: “Women’s bodies and clothing are recurring subjects for Richards. On a 2013 episode, he says that women ‘dress like a hooker’ on Halloween; on another, he tells a story about a former Price employee who had taken up baking: ‘We said that we were going to have to saw her out of her room because she was going to be so giant that she wouldn’t be able to fit out the door.’”

In his statement to the Ringer, which Sony also supplied to Variety, Richards said that the podcast “was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around.” He said his attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable and that he has removed the episodes, pledging to live up to his obligations as a role model.

Richards’ goose was cooked when the Anti-Defamation League called for an “investigation.”

An “entry point to hate”? “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering,” says wise Yoda. But I hardly think that Richards has irretrievably gone to the dark side because he makes booby jokes.

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Nevertheless, those whose job it is to look for something to be outraged about — even if it’s said in jest —  had a field day with Richards.

In the end, Sony concluded that Richards’ image was too battered for him to take the helm of one of television’s most prestigious and popular brands. The irony is that the studio moved in his favor because he was seen as a neutral personality rather than an established name that might overshadow the show and its famously rapid fire, answers-in-the-form-of-a-question format.

“We support Mike’s decision to step down as host,” Sony Pictures TV said. “We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past.  We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward.”

Richards will still serve as executive producer of the game show, which leads to the head-scratching conclusion: If Richards is so toxic that he can’t host the show, how is it OK for him to have such a high-profile management position?