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    Why “Jeopardy!” Might Not Survive The Mike Richards Debacle

    “Many people saw it basically as kind of like Dick Cheney conducting a search for the vice president...and then deciding that he would be the best vice president.”

    On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed former Jeopardy! executive producer (and host for a day or so) Mike Richards. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

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    So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to Vox writer Aja Romano about the super-brief rise and spectacular fall of Mike Richards. Here's some of what we learned:

    BuzzFeed Daily: Sony passed over all those celebrity guest hosts and instead hired the show's executive producer, Mike Richards. Why do you think he was the choice?

    Mike Richards holding an Emmy on the Jeopardy! set
    Daytime Emmy Awards 2021 / via Getty Images

    Aja Romano: It's really tempting to say that Mike was the ultimate choice because he was hiring himself, right? When Sony put out the announcement that they'd hired him, they made a point to say that the decision was made with a round table, essentially of Sony executives and stakeholders. And I'm sure that Mike Richards was probably one of those people, since he is the executive producer of the show. So, many, many people saw it basically as kind of like Dick Cheney conducting a search for the vice president and then deciding that he would be the best vice president. 

    I think you have a situation where right from the beginning, people reacted to the announcement with wariness and suspicion, which makes a lot of sense under the circumstances. And that's not to say that he wasn't a good host. I mean, he was actually a pretty popular host among the many guests that debuted over the season. But I think one reason he was a popular host is that he presented himself as sort of having to take the reins because of a scheduling conflict with Ken Jennings. And The Ringer published a report that kind of implied that maybe that wasn't the case, that a lot of the people on staff were really confused about why he was spinning this conflict as though it was this dire emergency that required him to guest host — where he just absolutely had to step in because there was no one else who could take over, because apparently, according to The Ringer, they had enough episodes and enough footage to really fill the gap. And it wasn't a big deal.

    So you think about that and then you think about if he had indeed kind of orchestrated a reason to put himself on the show and then use that as an excuse to be like "I'm the best host." And it all just started to seem sort of like a sinister one-man conspiracy.

    BuzzFeed Daily: Even with Mayim Bialik resuming guest host duties (for now) things remain messy. While she was a popular guest host, there's this growing backlash against her now, especially with her anti-vax history. It just begs the question, how could Sony executives not have foreseen these things coming? I mean, it's so easy to look these things up.

    Mayim Bialik at the Jeopardy! podium
    Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

    AR: I would love to answer that question for you, but my current question is: Why are they still allowing her to host, even as the backlash against her builds and builds, and even as more people point out more and more problematic things she said? It's very, very — not just anti-vax things, but things that she said that seem to be very, very against any kind of non-natural form of childbirth, for example. 

    So I think you're getting into an arena where Sony must be aware of this. You hope that they are aware of this since it's been all over social media. The question is, why are they just letting this build and build and build? Do they not see that they're going to have another case of Mike Richards on their hands? I don't know what the answer is.

    I think maybe you always want to think that the producers and the executives are as in touch with the people on the ground, shouting a lot on Twitter as we all are. Right. Because you see these people every day. We see these kinds of conversations every day. But I think the answer is that they're just not and they don't think about this until the noise gets so big that they can no longer ignore it, which is definitely what happened in the case of Mike Richards.

    BuzzFeed Daily: Now we wonder if this quest to find a new, morally respected host is just a lost cause. In its decades-long run, the show has only had two main hosts. There was original host Art Fleming and then, of course, longtime host Alex Trebek. Each had reputations that matched the show's largely scandal-free record. Is finding another Fleming or Trebek even possible nowadays?

    LeVar Burton standing in front of the Jeopardy! screens
    Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

    AR: I mean, I think so. The kind of constant refrain as the conversation keeps going is: LeVar Burton is right there. LeVar Burton specifically, not only does he want to host, but he himself has had a longstanding role as what I would call an icon of wholesomeness, not only because of his role as one time Reading Rainbow host, but because of the way that his career evolved over the years, and the way that he has kind of become this Internet culture wholesomeness guru, if you will.

    Someone like that is who people want to see take over, not only because I think the current zeitgeist lends itself towards people not wanting another straight white guy host to be the next guy in line. But I think because people just really revere LeVar Burton on his own and for reasons that have nothing to do with the show. And so I think that enhances their investment in his getting the job in a way that you don't really see with the other guest hosts.

    That said, I do think that there are probably some skeletons in LeVar Burton's past that will probably be unearthed to, because everybody has skeletons. I think it's just a matter of what kind they are and how intense they are. And what would they leave us with? Our childhoods are ruined now and we can never watch Reading Rainbow again? Or will they leave us with, this is the kind of thing that you can apologize for and move on from.

    The problem is you never know what's in somebody's closet until you really start digging around and doing your due diligence. You want to know that Jeopardy! is doing their due diligence. You want to know that Sony is doing its due diligence. But do you have any guarantees? No. And so I think we're just kind of waiting to see what will happen.

    If anyone needed further proof that NYC is not ready for climate change, there was major flooding throughout the boroughs, resulting in multiple deaths, a lot of infrastructure and residential damage, and suspended public transit.

    This looks more like a subway car wash than a subway station. This flooding has to be doing an incredible amount of damage to the NYC subway system.

    @mikesacconetv / Twitter / Via Twitter: @mikesacconetv

    It got so bad that the National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Emergency for the city for the first time in history.

    New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were also hit bad — at least 18 people were found dead between those states and NYC as a result of the storm.

    In other news, Joe Rogan continues to be as Joe Rogan-y as possible.

    Photo of Joe Rogan at a UFC event with a microphone
    Stacy Revere / Getty Images

    After contracting COVID-19, he revealed in a video that he had used various drugs to treat himself, including prednisone, a vitamin drip, and ivermectin — which is generally used in the US to treat parasitic worms in animals such as horses.

    As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com or on Twitter @BuzzFeedDaily.