What ‘Jeopardy’ Host Alex Trebek Has Been Criticized For Over the Years

Alex Trebek of Jeopardy is one of today’s most popular game show hosts. Manning the quiz board since 1984, Trebek remains on the job even after his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in March 2019.

Heading the show for over 30 years, Trebek has become a fan favorite. Yet the quiz master revealed that he does get his share of criticism from the public.

Alex Trebek attends the screening of 'The Bridge on The River Kwai'
Alex Trebek of ‘Jeopardy’ | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for TCM

‘Jeopardy’ host still loves his job

When asked in an interview if there’s a part of his career that feels like a chore, the game show host shared that he enjoys all aspects of his job.

“I have to work, but it’s work I enjoy and that still has challenges,” Trebek told Vulture in November 2018. “I have at least two new players on each program and all new material that I’ve got to read properly.”

The quiz master admitted that after decades of doing the show, his attention span can waiver. “As I’ve gotten older I realize, as professional athletes do, that the difficult thing is not losing your physical skills,” Trebek shared. “It’s losing your ability to concentrate. … We have a clue every 10, 12 seconds. I can’t dwell on the one I screwed up; I have to dwell on the next one.”

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Alex Trebek on being critiqued

Though Trebek has a massive fan following, the game show host revealed that he receives negative commentary just like most public figures. The Jeopardy host will sometimes get conflicting criticisms of his actions.

“I’ve been criticized for treating women more harshly than men. I’ve also been criticized for treating women better than men,” Trebek told Vulture. “In fact, I remember looking in a stack of letters once and finding two: One said, ‘Boy, you fawn over women [contestants] and try to help them out.’ And the other was, ‘Boy, you’re mean to women.’ “

The Canadian-born television personality noted that opinions of him are often formed from an audience member’s personal perspective.

“A viewer’s reaction is dependent on their biases in everyday life,” Trebek explained. “If they think that women are put upon unfairly, they’re going to watch the program and if they see anything that they believe satisfies their bias, it becomes their reality: ‘I always suspected you were nasty and now you’ve confirmed it!’ ”

Trebek looks to the masters on which to model how he carries himself. “One reason why a host can succeed for a long time is by not offending,” the Jeopardy host remarked. “You saw it with Johnny Carson. He was bright enough to cover almost any potentially offensive moment with his wit.”

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‘Jeopardy’ host knows how he’ll sign off

While he has no immediate plans for retirement, Trebek has figured out how he will end his very last show.

“I don’t have to work on [my goodbye] at all,” he said, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I made this decision a long time ago, that what I’d do, it would be the same as when I shaved my mustache, I did it on a whim, on that particular day, I will speak to [longtime Jeopardy! executive producer] Harry [Friedman] and I will speak to Clay [Jacobsen] our director and tell him, ‘Give me 30 seconds at the end of the program that’s all I need to say goodbye.’ That’s going to be the last show.”

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A one-year update from Alex.

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For now, Trebek plans on staying at the quiz board. “Someone asked me if I had thought about retiring… I had given some thought to retiring, I’m not sure how it’s going to work out,” he shared. “We’ll see what happens. As long as I feel my skills have not diminished too much and as long as I’m enjoying spending time with the right people… then I’ll continue doing it.” 

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