‘Jeopardy!’: Former Contestants Speak Out on Show’s Future with Dr. Oz Guest-Hosting

by Jennifer Shea

Despite disparate backgrounds and varying performances on the show, hundreds of former “Jeopardy!” contestants can agree on one thing: They do not like current guest host, and late host Alex Trebek’s friend, Dr. Mehmet Oz.

In fact, over 500 former “Jeopardy!” contestants have signed on to an open letter to “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards opposing Oz’s guest-hosting stint.

The letter charges Oz with hawking useless supplements, supporting gay conversion therapy and pushing quack cures for autism as well as promoting hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment.  

‘Jeopardy!’ Contestants Say Oz Represents An Insidious Trend

“Dr. Oz represents what has become a dubious trend in America: the elevation of the credentialed talking head,” the letter reads in part. “Jeopardy! is known for being incredibly rigorous; a well-deserved reputation. As contestants, we’ve all seen… writers and judges frantically cross-reference answers in real time to make sure that the facts are accurate. To then invite Dr. Oz to guest-host is a slap in the face to all involved.”

Oz is a cardiac surgeon with Ivy League degrees. He is the director of the Integrative Medicine Center at Columbia University. But in 2014, a group of physicians and researchers from Canada conducted a study of two medical talk shows, one of them being “The Dr. Oz Show.” And they found that only about 21% of Oz’s recommendations had credible science backing them up. They further found that scientific evidence contradicted 11% of the cures Oz suggested.

At the same time, Oz and Trebek were good friends, according to Fox News. And Richards told USA Today earlier this month that Oz “was very close to Alex.”

Agreement Across the Board

The former contestants don’t care about that, however. One of the letter’s co-writers spoke to the New York Post about the signatories’ perspective.

“There aren’t many things we can all agree on,” Rachel Paterno-Mahler said about the open letter’s complaints. “But this was pretty universal across the board.”

Still, Paterno-Mahler was quick to stress that they aren’t calling for a boycott of the show. More likely, they just want to make sure Oz is not in the running for the permanent hosting gig.

The letter’s signatories feel that Oz is popular and successful for the wrong reasons, reasons that fly in the face of the qualities elevated on “Jeopardy!,” a show that celebrates nobodies with extensive trivia knowledge.

After Oz, the next guest hosts will be Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, “Today” co-anchor Savanna Guthrie, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, actress Mayim Bialik, “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. While Guthrie, Cooper and Gupta are also talking heads, they have not been debunked by researchers for promoting unproven cures.

“One of these things is not like the other[s],” Brenda Gant, whose “Jeopardy!” stint aired last February, told the Post.