Why So Many Conservative Game Show Hosts?

Alex Trebek

I was talking to Will the other day, and he mentioned that Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was a conservative. I didn’t know that, but it didn’t surprise me.

I’ve noticed a few things about him. One is that he seems to have no sense of the humiliation that players feel when they aren’t doing well. He clearly and (as the supposed neutral host) unfairly shows an eagerness to see the current champion win. And most of all, his sexism shines through. That’s particularly telling, because you would think that for the good of the show, more female winners would be good.

Lots of Conservative Game Show Hosts

I’ve noticed in the past that there really are a lot of conservative game show hosts, in as much as we can tell. The most obvious example is Pat Sajak, who is a far-right climate change denier.

I’ve often wondered why this is, so I went looking and came upon a reprint of an article written by Rebecca Dana back in 2010, Why Game-Show Hosts Vote Republican. It, unfortunately, doesn’t provide a lot of answers as to why there are so many conservative game show hosts. It’s probably because it is an obscure issue and there aren’t a bunch of experts on game shows, much less the political leanings of their hosts.

What the Expert Says

But she does discuss the matter with game show expert, Olaf Hoerschelmann. He provided two quotes that are worth thinking about:

  1. “To have the right sensibility to be a game-show host, you do have to have a belief in rugged individualism — either you make it or you’re not worth it.”
  2. “Generally the ideology of acquiring money and achieving fortune through luck goes along pretty well with a certain basic capitalist attitude.”

I think there is a lot to the first quote. In a world where nothing is clear — where it is all shades of grey — it probably is very attractive to conservatives to have something like a game where there is a clear winner.

I, of course, hate this kind of thing. Even at my most fanatical as a chess player, it was never about winning — it was about the process, the creativity, and personal betterment. But for most chess players, winning is all that matters, which is why I didn’t really continue on in the game after I had reached a level where I thought I really understood it.

Unfairness on Jeopardy!

Chuck Wollery

Hoerschelmann’s second quote is much more interesting. That’s the thing about most game shows: the prizes are not at all fairly distributed. If the top player on Jeopardy! ends with a score of $15,000 and the next player ends with $14,999, that second player goes home with the standard second place prize: $2,000.

Now, you could say that the winner is playing by the rules and would have bet more if the spoils were more evenly shared. Exactly! And if that were the case, Jeopardy! would be a more interesting game. Instead, “Final Jeopardy” is as likely as not to be non-competitive and boring.

We might ask why the game is set up that way. And maybe it is as simple as the fact that it was created by Merv Griffin — another conservative.

My Ideas on Conservative Game Show Hosts

But I have another idea why there tend to be a lot of conservative game show hosts. It isn’t a job that takes much talent. That means, it is more likely to go to someone who is good at working the system — schmoozing with the executives.

I have been watching Chuck Woolery since I was ten years old — over 40 years! And I see absolutely nothing that distinguishes him from just about every other game show host.

We can also just deconstruct it. Game show hosts are generally male and rich. Both of those select for conservatism. That doesn’t apply to actors, because that’s an actual creative activity that draws in liberal minded people.

But men who are paid a lot of money to do things that aren’t hard: nine out of ten times, that man is going to be a conservative. And that means a lot of conservative game show hosts.

Alex Trebek image cropped from one by Nestor Cruz (US Air Force) – Page #123047485 Image #070331-F-3458C-100, Public Domain, via Wikipedia. Chuck Wollery by Beao under CC BY 2.0.

8 thoughts on “Why So Many Conservative Game Show Hosts?

  1. From that article:

    “I’m now sacrificing my career coming out as a conservative,” said The Dating Game’s Woolery, a born-again Christian, during a 2009 appearance on Mike Huckabee’s Fox News talk show. “So I’ll never be hired in Hollywood again once they find out I’m doing it on your show.”

    Excuse my tangent for a bit but quite frankly, this is so annoying to hear from conservatives in Hollywood. I know a big part of their worldview is they are thicslose to being tossed into camps by liberals who often are not in positions of power to do anything to a conservative. Maybe he was joking but more often then not they are serious because it totally has happened! They cannot point to a situation where it did but never you mind.



    I think you have to have a soothing voice, paternalistic behavior and an utter indifference to the suffering of others to be a game show host.

    • I’m sure he was serious. The fact that he was already retired from game shows doesn’t seem to have mattered. I noted that too when I read the article, “Sacrificing your career?!” Or consider Craig T Nelson who is so on the outs in Hollywood because of his conservatism that he works constantly. Or remember when Kelsey Grammer was complaining about his politics hurting him? It wasn’t because of work: he does a lot of acting and producing. No, it was his totally unjustified belief that he should be winning awards. I think mediocrity and conservatism go together.

    • I remember seeing one “Jeopardy” where the question involved the Moon and one snarky contestant answered “La Luna.”

      Trebek, being a oblivious dingdoodle, said “wrong” and then held his hand to his earpiece. “Ah, the judges are reminding me, La Luna is, of course, as we all know, another way of referring to the Moon.” He didn’t know it.

      I sometimes watch the old game-show channel (I like the B&W ones from way back.) Most hosts are creeps. Richard Dawson was super-creepy.

      • Yeah, I love that he likes to present himself as smart. I don’t think so. But speaking of “La Luna,” one of my favorites:

    • That’s amazing! Part of me sympathizes with him. I’ve been known to be very stupid very publicly. So it must suck to feel that way and have your son sick. And I certainly do hope his son is okay. I mean, the guy’s on a losing streak. First, he’s Chuck Woolery’s son. Now he’s sick?! Poor guy!

      But Wollery is a terrible guy. And I’m tired of these stories of conservatives finding wisdom suddenly about one issue. It never changes their views on anything else. I’m sure he will continue to deny global warming until his son’s house is flooded.

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