Jeopardy! is no stranger to controversy — we all remember the Great Hosting Snafu Of 2021 — and its fans have been known to pick up a pitchfork or two when it comes to upholding the sanctity of America’s favorite quiz show. Lately it’s the WGA writer’s strike and the actors’ SAG-AFTRA strike that have people up in arms, and Jennings has faced pressure to follow Mayim Bialik’s lead by stepping down as host in solidarity of the show’s writers. There’s been increasing criticism of Jennings, as huge changes have been made to keep the show in production during the strikes, and the Jeopardy! GOAT’s podcasting partner has heard enough.
Ken Jennings stepped in for Mayim Bialik at the end of Season 39, when the Call Me Kat alum skipped the final week to support Jeopardy!’s writers, who are members of the Writer’s Guild of America. Many people reportedly took issue with his decision, to the point that Omnibus podcast co-host John Roderick went on a tirade, accusing Jennings’ critics of not understanding how labor unions work. He wrote, in part, on Facebook (per TV Insider):
If you look at SAG-AFTRA rules there are contractual carve-outs for daytime television and game shows specifically. Ken is a member of SAG in good standing. Everyone in Hollywood is aware that different unions have different rules and different contracts apply differently to different jobs. There are TENS OF THOUSANDS of union workers in Hollywood still working. Ken is not a scab and anyone who says so is ignorant of how unions work. It amazes me that so many people who think they are supporting labor by yelling scab on a public forum are just revealing they have no idea how organized labor functions.
John Roderick vehemently denied that Ken Jennings is doing anything wrong by continuing to keep Jeopardy! on the air during the strikes, and he went on to specifically address Celebrity Jeopardy! finalist Wil Wheaton calling one of Jeopardy!’s biggest winners a “scab” for crossing the picket lines. Roderick continued:
I’m not going to say Mayim, or Wil Wheaton, are SHOWBOATING, and maybe Wil doesn’t know how labor works either, but there’s a lot of irrelevant virtue-signaling on this topic that, frankly, is both boring and idiotic. Mayim Bialik is doing what she’s doing in performative solidarity with the writer’s strike and Ken is stepping in to keep the show running in accordance with his contract as a SAG-AFTRA game show host.
Ken Jennings has also defended himself — albeit not in as many words as his Omnibus partner — by pointing out that Alex Trebek also continued working through the 2007-08 writer’s strike. He also called the writers “the engine that runs Jeopardy!,” and indeed, executive producer Michael Davies has ensured they will never air material not written by WGA members. Instead, recycled clues and previously written new material will be used for a Second Chance Tournament, and Season 2 of Celebrity Jeopardy! can move forward, as its clues were already written ahead of the strike.
In speaking up for Ken Jennings, John Roderick really just implored people to not blast others on the Internet if they are not fully informed of a situation and to rather do some independent research on the unions.
Meanwhile, Jeopardy! will be without Mayim Bialik longer than expected, with Jennings behind the lectern for the Second Chance Tournament to kick off Season 40 on Monday, September 11, as well as Celebrity Jeopardy!, whose second season will premiere at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, September 27, on ABC.