A group of former Jeopardy! competitors issued a lengthy letter to executive producer Mike Richards denouncing the decision to feature Dr. Mehmet Oz as one of several guest hosts on the quiz show following star Alex Trebek‘s death.
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The petition, published via Medium in February, was resurfaced as the 60-year-old Harvard University alum prepared to take the podium for the Monday, March 22, episode of the quiz show.
“It has been exciting to see Jeopardy! feature an increasingly diverse pool of contestants over the past few years. We are excited to see this diversity of talent expand to the guest host pool, with guest hosts such as Aaron Rodgers, Katie Couric and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to name a few,” the ex-contestants began. “And as a large, diverse group of people, there is very little that a large group of Jeopardy! contestants can agree upon. But when we heard that Dr. Mehmet Oz was slated to be a guest host, agreement came quickly — we were opposed.”
While they conceded that Dr. Oz could help increase ratings and viewership, the petitioners claimed that the daytime talk show host “stands in opposition to everything that Jeopardy! stands for,” including “facts and knowledge.” Calling out the Ohio native’s past promotion of controversial therapies, the writers added, “Throughout his nearly two decades on television he has used his authority as a doctor to push harmful ideas onto the American public, in stark contrast with his oath to first do no harm. These ideas include promoting supplements that do nothing, legitimizing gay conversion therapy (which is banned in California, as well as 19 other states), dangerous ‘cures’ for autism, and, most recently, the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19.”
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More than 500 people signed the petition to remove Oz from the guest host role, asserting that the Daytime Emmy winner is “actively putting his viewers in danger” by supporting products or methods that are not “backed by any scientific fact.” To provide a platform to the Food Can Fix It author on a show with such a “well-deserved reputation” would be “a slap in the face to all involved,” the former contestants argued.
Oz began his TV career on Second Opinion With Dr. Oz in 2003 before rebranding as The Dr. Oz Show six years later. His homeopathic recommendations and pseudoscientific advice have raised eyebrows through the years, most recently in April 2020, when he claimed that reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic seemed like an “appetizing” idea.
“You know, any life is a life lost, but to get every child back into a school where they’re safely being educated, being fed and making the most out of their lives, with the theoretical risk on the backside, it might be a trade-off some folks would consider,” the cardiothoracic surgeon — who was appointed to former president Donald Trump‘s council on sports, fitness and nutrition in 2018 — said on Fox News at the time.
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After coming under fire for the insensitive remark, Oz posted an apology video to Twitter, admitting that he “misspoke.” He later walked back his support of using hydroxychloroquine as a potential COVID-19 treatment before widespread vaccine production was underway.
Jeopardy! resumed production with former champ Ken Jennings briefly stepping in as host after Trebek lost his battle with stage IV pancreatic cancer at age 80 in October 2020. The Canadian, who began his stint on the game show in 1984, publicly revealed his diagnosis in March 2019.
Us Weekly reached out to reps for both Oz and Jeopardy! and received no comment.
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