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Ken Jennings' Podcast Co-Host Goes Off on Mayim Bialik, Wil Wheaton

By Dustin Rowles | TV | August 30, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | August 30, 2023 |


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Ken Jennings is going through the wringer these days for choosing to host Jeopardy during the SAG/WGA strikes while his co-host, Mayim Bialik, chooses not to. It’s not a great look for Jennings — who will be hosting episodes using recycled questions — and the Internet has not been kind. He’s been called a scab more than a few times.

John Roderick, the co-host of the twice-weekly Omnibus podcast with Ken Jennings, does not like that the Internet is calling Jennings a scab. He hates it so much that he took to Facebook (via Reddit) to rant, insisting that there are carve-outs for daytime television and that Jennings is a member in good standing with SAG-AFTRA. This is true. Ken Jennings is not violating any labor agreements. He is not doing anything contractually wrong. He is abiding by his contract.

But it’s the principle of the thing. There’s a reason why Jeopardy can’t host tournaments right now, and it’s because the past winners refuse to appear in them during the strike. Jeopardy has asked past losers to return for a second opportunity, and even some of those former contestants do not want to return during the strike. They think the writers should be paid a fair wage, while Ken Jennings is willing to host the show using recycled questions. He’s not technically a scab because there are carve-outs for his position, but he’s still crossing the WGA picket line to host.

Still, John Roderick is apparently a good friend and wants to defend Ken Jennings. If he’d only done that, few would probably take issue. But in defending Jennings, he called out Bialik (and Wil Wheaton). “I’m not going to say that Mayim, or Wil Wheaton, are SHOWBOATING,” he wrote, “but there’s a lot of irrelevant virtue signaling on this topic that frankly is both boring and idiotic. Mayim is doing what she’s doing in performative solidarity with the writers’ strike and Ken is stepping in to keep the show running in accordance with his contract.”

A fairly major celebrity went off on me on Twitter one time many years ago after I gave his film a poor review, and a writer here at the time did the absolute worst thing he could do: He tried to defend me. It did not go well for him and thus did not go well for me by extension. It was humiliating. I understood the writer’s intentions, but there are times when shutting up is the absolute best thing a person can do.

Likewise, John Roderick is trying to stand up for his friend, but it’s not a good look for Roderick and, by extension, Ken Jennings, who probably wishes that Roderick had kept his mouth shut, too. I don’t think that Bialik is being “performative.” I think she genuinely wants what’s best for the writers.

I will say, however, that I find it ironic that Roderick insists in his post that people do their research, only to conclude by suggesting that the “paid by the word” bloggers defending Ken Jennings do not know what they’re talking about, either. That may be true, but what’s not true is anyone in digital publishing being paid by the word. Do you know how rich Lord Castleton would be if that were the case?

via Reddit