As spring quickly morphs into summer, the rotation of “Jeopardy!” guest hosts continues. Last Monday, NBC News correspondent and “Today Show” co-host Savannah Guthrie began a two-week stint behind the host’s lectern. During Guthrie’s time as guest host, “Jeopardy!” will match contestants’ winnings and donate those funds to the Bowery Mission, a Christian soup kitchen and homeless shelter in New York City.
Guthrie’s spot comes between two neuroscientists with dramatically different backgrounds. Mayim Bialik, an actress who obtained a doctorate in neuroscience from the University of California at Los Angeles in 2007, preceded Guthrie. Sanjay Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon best known as CNN’s chief medical correspondent, will succeed Guthrie for the episodes that start airing June 28.
Parade of Leftist Anchors
The switch from Bialik to Guthrie behind the lectern resumed the parade of leftist news anchors as “Jeopardy!” guest hosts. Guthrie follows the likes of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who has compared President Donald Trump to an obese turtle (a comment for which he apologized), and former anchor Katie Couric, who said the former president’s supporters needed deprogramming (a comment for which she did not apologize).
I know of Guthrie most recently, and infamously, for her moderation of an NBC News town hall with Trump last October, during which she interrupted and overrode his answers and voters’ questions to talk about her own agenda. A simultaneous town hall with Joe Biden on ABC saw George Stephanopoulos (who will host a week of “Jeopardy!” episodes next month) call on voters who actually turned out to be a former Obama speechwriter and the wife of a former Democrat candidate for the Pennsylvania state senate. Stephanopoulos failed to disclose their party affiliations or connections.
Despite her leftist politics, Guthrie performed well in her first week as “Jeopardy!” guest host. She sounded encouraging towards contestants, without the overactive enthusiasm Couric occasionally displayed.
Although Guthrie commented how fastidious the “Jeopardy!” production staff were about proper pronunciation of clues, she did not commit any significant flubs on-camera. However, that accuracy might have more to do with the show’s reportedly exacting and lengthy editing process for its guest hosts.
‘Are We There Yet?’
Guthrie is the tenth “Jeopardy!” guest host since Alex Trebek’s final episodes aired in January. According to the show’s schedule, another six guest hosts’ episodes have yet to air. (Following Gupta, the last five guest hosts — Stephanopoulos, ABC anchor Robin Roberts, former “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton, CNBC host David Faber, and Fox sportscaster Joe Buck — will spend one week behind the lectern rather than two.)
At this point, the roster of guest hosts is tedious. “Jeopardy!” has taped all of its episodes for the 37th season, although the last eight weeks haven’t yet aired. The show has likely already narrowed finalists for the permanent hosting role, even though it may not announce them for several more weeks.
Meanwhile, as the wheel of rotating guest hosts turns, “Jeopardy!” continues to drop in ratings, shedding roughly 1 million viewers since January. Of course, some of the decrease may have to do with factors completely external to the show. With warmer weather and plummeting COVID-19 cases, many people are likely making up for lost time in other social activities, rather than watching television.
But the rotation of hosts hasn’t helped much, either. As the show slowly finishes its round of guest hosts, “Jeopardy!” producers will have to hope the announcement of a permanent host in September helps bolster “Jeopardy!’s” falling ratings.