Let’s face it, “Jeopardy!” hasn’t been the same since Alex Trebek left us. For many of us, the show holds nostalgia. My late Nana and I would watch it as part of her show block that started at 7pm. It was “Jeopardy!,” and then “Wheel of Fortune.” I know that things change and that other hosts were bound to join the show after his death. But back in 2018, Trebek named his chosen successor. He wanted Laura Coates to take on the role.
To be fair, he offered two names during an interview with TMZ’s Harvey Levin. He offered LA Kings play-by-play announcer Alex Faust and Laura Coates, a radio host and cable news legal analyst. But today, we’re going to focus on Coates who’s love of the show runs deep and who should have been asked to AT LEAST guest host.
Who is Laura Coates?
Laura Coates is a Legal Analyst who makes the law more understandable for everyday citizens. She says she takes the legalese out of the law and makes it so that everyone can comprehend the sometimes very difficult language written into the law. She’s worked as a radio host and a cable news legal analyst and is someone that Alex Trebek enjoyed watching and listening to.
Since 2017, she has hosted the daily talk show “The Laura Coates Show” on SiriusXM, now airing weekdays 3-6 PM ET on the P.O.T.U.S. channel. Laura “edutains” an engaged audience with discussion on the intersections of politics, law, and pop culture in a way that highlights her intelligence, humor, charisma, and … antics.
Coates is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law and routinely speaks across the country on civil rights, social justice, economic empowerment, and leaps of faith.
You can find all of this information on her website. There you will find that she has an upstanding reputation that would be wonderful for people to tune into while watching Jeopardy.
Diversity Fakeout With Their Guest Hosts
It’s also possible that her being an African American woman would have been too much for their older (presumably white) audience to accept. But considering they had the guest hosts contain people of color that could never be the case right? Wrong. The show is being accused of having a diversity fakeout where they dangled people of color and different backgrounds to guest host the show, but never seriously entertained the idea of choosing one.
In the line up of guest hosts, people like fan favorite LeVar Burton was included, who most of us know from his time on “Reading Rainbow” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” In fact the reason most of us probably wanted him was because he held just as much nostalgia as the show did for us.
But lets count how many people that weren’t white that guest hosted the show. We have let’s see…. 5 maybe out of 14. Two more and at least it would have been half and half. And I’m only counting Mayim Bialik because of her Jewish background. Bill Whitaker, American television journalist and a correspondent on the CBS News program 60 Minutes hosted. Then we had Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a Pakistani American neurosurgeon, medical reporter, and writer. And the one black woman who hosted, Robin Roberts, anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Why Didn’t She Get The Job?
I’ll take why didn’t Laura Coates get the job for 100 Alex…especially after she publicly thanked Trebek after he named her initially. To me that would imply that she would have loved to take the job. But here’s the thing. She wasn’t even asked.
A user on Reddit commented: “Anytime there’s a single, highly coveted spot the bias ultimately wins out. You’re more likely to get diversity when you hire for multiple positions. When it’s a single spot it’s always ‘well, yes he’s white and male but he was the best person for the job.’”
Announced Replacement Mike Richards is Nepotism at its Finest
Producer Mike Richards is the most problematic host they could have named. It’s nepotism at its finest with him being a producer on the show. He basically just picked himself. Went into the office and said so here’s what’s going to happen. Are you with me?
If you haven’t been keeping up with the news around, him he’s been accused of a few things. First thing that came out was the comments he made about pregnant women. And that’s just scratching the surface.
The accusation was proven true by former “Price is Right” model Brandi Cochran, who sued CBS and Fremantle Media for pregnancy discrimination. She sued after being denied her job after returning from maternity leave in 2010.
Her story goes that when she told Richards, “put his head in his hands.” The next day, Richards stormed up to her and said, “Twins? Are you kidding? Are you serious?”
He also said at a holiday party in 2008, “Go figure, I fire five models, what are the odds one of the ones that I keep gets pregnant?”
She won $8.5 million in the suit after judgement found CBS and Fremantle media guilty.
The Disappearing Podcast Trick
OH THERE’S MORE! Don’t worry there’s more to why he’s a terrible pick for the job. Mike Richards has also made offensive and racist comments on a podcast. The Randumb Show was marketed to listeners as a look behind the scenes at “The Price Is Right.” There, Richards would say all manner of things. He’s quoted as saying he’s bad at trivia, and never would have been on “Jeopardy!.”
“Rodgers and Burton were clear about how important Jeopardy! was to them personally. Given that he also was a candidate to host The Price Is Right, it looks like Richards just wanted to host a game show, any game show.”Kristin Sausville, five time winner of Jeopardy! in 2015
But wait, didn’t you say he said offensive and racist things? We’re getting there I promise. In fact we’ve found a snippet via The Ringer which you can listen to:
In the clip, Richards is asking his co-host about whether or not she’s taken nudes before. He’s also been recorded talking about women’s bodies and his opinions on what made women look bad. Like how one piece swimsuits made women look “really frumpy and overweight.”
Mere hours after The Ringer ran their article, the entire podcast disappeared. It was completely scrubbed from the hosting site and Richards sent them a statement.
“It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago. Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry. The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around. Even with the passage of time, it’s more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable, and I have removed the episodes. My responsibilities today as a father, husband, and a public personality who speaks to many people through my role on television means I have substantial and serious obligations as a role model, and I intend to live up to them.”Richards to The Ringer
I Won’t Be Watching, And Maybe You Shouldn’t Either
If you want the producers to make a change, the only thing to do is to stop watching. A drop in the ratings might be the thing that makes them go with someone else.
Bialik will take on the role for “Jeopardy!” spinoffs and prime-time specials, like a two-week tournament on ABC in 2022 with players from 15 colleges and universities. This makes her the show’s first female permanent host.
But I don’t want to watch yet another white man who granted himself some power take over something I love. Someone who’s admittedly bad at trivia and who lacks the motivation to look things up in earnest. Unless of course it’s something he cares about. Also there’s the whole problematic comments thing.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you what to do or how to enjoy things. But for me, I won’t be watching until they at least say that Laura Coates was considered, and SHE turned it down. I want someone who has the kind of enthusiasm for the game that Alex Trebek did. All evidence for Richards says he doesn’t care. He just wants to be a famous face.