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Why is Dr. Oz guest-hosting Jeopardy!? To appeal to conservative viewers?

  • Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has a reputation for peddling pseudoscience, is a "lousy fit" for Jeopardy!, says Claire McNair, noting that the trained cardiologist "rose to national fame as a health expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the mid-aughts, when he made a habit of hawking dubious, and sometimes outright offensive, remedies." McNear contacted past Jeopardy! contestants, who also felt bothered by Oz guest-hosting. “Science is really a verb—not a noun,” says Lindsey Shultz, a four-game winner from 2019 who works as a public health analyst. “When you’ve made your career in the popular media by at best conveying confidence in unproven remedies—and at worst implicitly causing your audience to doubt the process the rest of us live by and have been at wit’s end trying to defend for a full calendar year—I’m not sure a show based around facts is the best place for you.” As McNear points out, The Dr. Oz Show and Jeopardy! are both distributed by Sony Pictures Television, "and cross-promoting one highly rated syndicated show on a second highly rated syndicated show from the same studio is hardly an outlandish concept. (Although BuzzerBlog, which covers game shows, pointed out that those ratings might not actually be that impressive.)" McNear, who wrote a book on Jeopardy! last year, believes another reason why Dr. Oz has been added to the guest-hosting roster is to appease and appeal to conservative viewers. Interim host Ken Jennings, who is left-leaning, "has become a target of a certain sort of right-wing, bad-faith noisemaker, including Donald Trump Jr. and The Federalist" for his past Twitter controversies. Two weeks ago, Page Six reported that Jeopardy! producers were concerned about alienating viewers after Katie Couric said Trump supporters should be "deprogrammed" on Real Time with Bill Maher. "Toss in the skewering of Trump by Savannah Guthrie, another just-named guest host, during an October town hall, and suddenly you’ve got a trend: Is Jeopardy! risking alienating its conservative viewers?!" says McNear. "In that light, Oz—the 'Fox News favorite' who had then-candidate Trump on his show in 2016 to praise his fishy health records and later joined President Trump’s health council—does check a box. The result is what feels worryingly like an attempt by Sony and Jeopardy! to balance the scales. But these aren’t opposing sides to find a compromise between. There is no middle ground between fact and pseudoscience, just as there’s no in between in the game itself: The answers are right or wrong, black or white. The beauty of Jeopardy! is that there is no gray area. It’s a space—a rare one—where holding up knowledge and certainty is celebrated, special, literally worth something. Of course Jeopardy! fans and contestants are upset: Looking the other way here, whether because it’s easy or profitable or attention-grabbing or whatever other rationale, is a betrayal."

    TOPICS: Mehmet Oz, The Dr. Oz Show, Katie Couric, Ken Jennings, Savannah Guthrie, Game Shows