The string of allegations against Richards are likely to cast a shadow over the legacy left by late host Alex Trebek, who was once ranked as the eighth most trusted person in America.
Trebek was well-aware of the role that he had in the lives of his fans. “I’ve been on the air for fifty years,” Trebek once said, “so I’m like a member of the family. Oh, there’s Alex. Well, we’d better get him a drink and get him some French fries or potato chips or whatever. They just want to know if I am in reality the way they perceive me on television. Is he a nice guy or not? Is he aloof or not?”
Despite his popularity, Trebek was a down-to-earth, charitable individual who often participated in charity works hands-on, such as his participation in World Vision’s effort to deliver food during the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s.
His wife, Jean Trebek, recently told Savannah Guthrie that “one of Alex’s gifts was that he could be very resolute and know that the truth will not hurt you, and he wanted to empower people to move through whatever challenge they had in life with a sense of inner strength, inner dignity, and love.”
Fans always knew that no one would be able to replace the humble Trebek behind the “Jeopardy!” podium, but it seems Sony might be missing what really matters to their audience: trust. Fans want a “Jeopardy!” host that they can trust enough to invite into their homes five days a week, and with Richards’ previous lawsuits and the suspicious circumstances surrounding Burton’s tryout means they’re already falling short of that mark.
But will they be able to get it back? That’s the Final Jeopardy question that doesn’t yet have an answer.