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New “Jeopardy!” host under fire for insensitive comments

According to a review of his podcast, Mike Richards used several insensitive terms and slurs, including derogatory terms for little people and those with an intellectual disability and calling women fat. He also has made insensitive remarks about Jewish people.  Sony Pictures/"Jeopardy!"

 

New “Jeopardy!” host Mike Richards has come under fire for sexist, antisemitic and racist comments he made on a podcast that recently resurfaced. Richards, who is also executive producer of “Jeopardy!” was also a defendant in a discrimination complaint during his time as the executive producer of “The Price is Right.”

Richards made the inappropriate comments on his podcast “The Randumb Show,” which he hosted from 2013 to 2014. All 41 episodes, which were available online until Tuesday, were reviewed by The Ringer, which found Richards made several inappropriate comments to his co-host and assistant on the show.

On an episode following a massive iCloud hack in 2014, in which intimate photos of famous actresses were leaked, Richards ask the two women if they had ever taken nude photos. He then prodded for more, asking his cohost to go through her phone and show him an image, The Ringer reports.

According to report, written by Claire McNear, Richards used several insensitive terms and slurs, including derogatory terms for little people and those with an intellectual disability and calling women fat. He also has made insensitive remarks about Jewish people.

When his cohost, Beth Triffon, discussed problems at her apartment, Richards asked: “Does Beth live, like, in Haiti? Doesn’t it sound like that? Like, the urine smell, the woman in the muumuu, the stray cats.”

When Triffon mentioned losing her job and qualifying for unemployment insurance benefits, Richards said: “The dangerous side about the crack that you just took is that not everyone is like you. But everyone can collect unemployment, which is why we have so many people on unemployment right now. Which is why we have so many people on food stamps. Because what if you got unemployment and food stamps? You’d be like, ‘Good lord, I’m making—.’ You know what I’m saying?”

He also criticized Triffon for giving a dollar to a homeless woman, saying the woman would use it to buy crack or meth, according to The Ringer, which included several audio examples in their reporting.

In a statement to CBS News, Richards said: “It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago.”

“Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry,” he said. “The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around. Even with the passage of time, it’s more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable, and I have removed the episodes.

“My responsibilities today as a father, husband, and a public personality who speaks to many people through my role on television means I have substantial and serious obligations as a role model, and I intend to live up to them,” Richards said.

Richards was also involved in a discrimination law suit brought by a “Price Is Right” model. In 2010, Brandi Cochran accused Richards of firing her because she had become pregnant.

The complaint alleges that after several models had been fired and Cochran told Richards about her pregnancy, he allegedly said: “Go figure! I fire five girls … what are the odds?'” Cochran thought Richards meant he “would have selected her for layoff if he had known that she was going to get pregnant.” After she gave birth, she found out her contract was terminated.

Another model on the show also filed a suit alleging she was wrongfully terminated and subject to harassment at work. According to Variety, Richards was dismissed and the suit was settled out of court in 2013.

In regards to the lawsuits, which were recently resurfaced by several media outlets, Richards sent a note to “Jeopardy!” staff, provided to CBS News by Sony Pictures.

“I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price is Right ten years ago,” Richards said in the note, which was sent out when it was rumored he would be named host of the show. “These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show. I want you all to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price is Right.”

“I know firsthand how special it is to be a parent. It is the most important thing in the world to me. I would not say anything to disrespect anyone’s pregnancy and have always supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys,” he said.

Earlier this month, Sony Pictures announced Richards was named full-time host of “Jeopardy!” and actress Mayim Bialik will serve as host of primetime and spinoff series.

The Ringer interviewed several people with connections to Sony Pictures, “Jeopardy!” and past shows Richards worked on, “The Price Is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal.”

One source said employees were blindsided by the choice to make Richards host of “Jeopardy!” after longtime host Alex Trebek died. Others depicted Richards as “exclusionary and dismissive of longtime show employees,” The Ringer reports.


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