The cancel culture scourge claimed another high-profile scalp this week, as producer Mike Richards was essentially forced to step down from his recently-announced position as the new, permanent host of Jeopardy! after controversial comments he made in the past were brought to light, as the Associated Press reported.
It was only a week prior that Richards – who also serves as the show’s executive producer — had been tapped to succeed the much-loved, late host Alex Trebek following a wide-ranging search that involved a series of guest-hosting stints by sports celebrities, actors, and other notable figures.
However, Richards’ rise to the host’s podium was scuttled almost immediately after a website called The Ringer unearthed a series of comments he had made about homeless individuals, women, and other groups on a short-lived podcast known as The Randumb Show, remarks which critics claimed were misogynistic and generally offensive.
In a statement issued to show staff on Friday, Richards explained, “Over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show.”
As the Hollywood Reporter noted, Richards continued his statement by apologizing to the entire Jeopardy! staff for the “unwanted negative attention” and also “for the confusion and delays” the situation is causing.
A statement from Sony Pictures Television confirmed that Richards will not take over as the show’s permanent host, but will remain as the program’s executive producer, adding, “We support Mike’s decision to step down as host. We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past.”
The corporate communication continued, “Mike has been with us for the last two years and has led the Jeopardy! team through the most challenging time the show has ever experienced. It is our hope that as [executive producer] he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”
According to Sony, a batch of episodes already filmed in which Richards served as host will still air as planned, followed by shows featuring a series of guest hosts who will fill in until a permanent replacement is named.
Though it is certainly unfortunate – and arguably most unfair – for Richards that comments made years ago on a little-known podcast have come back to sink the job opportunity of a lifetime, crisis public relations expert Evan Nierman told Fox News that while the would-be host may never be able to land another on-air role, he “should be able to resume his prior work as a producer and stay active in the industry,” a privilege not always afforded to cancel culture’s legions of other victims.