Alex Trebek Literally Gets Booed as Debate Moderator

One Pennsylvania newspaper says he turned gubernatorial debate into 'dumpster fire'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2018 11:26 AM CDT
Alex Trebek Literally Gets Booed as Debate Moderator
Moderator Alex Trebek speaks during a gubernatorial debate between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican Scott Wagner in Hershey, Pa., on Monday.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

It may not be clear who won Monday's debate between Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and his Republican challenger, Scott Wagner. But one thing seems clear based on Tuesday morning's reaction: Moderator Alex Trebek lost. Yes, the Jeopardy! host took on that unusual duty, and the reviews have not been kind, with most of them centering on the same complaint—Trebek talked too much. He even got booed. Examples:

  • The debate was "an absolute Dumpster fire," complains an editorial in the York Daily Record. Trebek "barely let the candidates get a word in edgewise" as he went off on tangents. "What we got was an egomaniacal game show host hogging the spotlight." The worst part is that this was the only scheduled debate in the race, prompting the newspaper to request a do-over.
  • Trebek should "be commended for his obviously rigorous preparation for this event, but he is not running for Pennsylvania's governor," Jill Greene, executive director of the state's League of Women Voters, tells the Reading Eagle. His "opinions and the opinions of the audience should have played no role in this debate, and Pennsylvanians have not gained anything through this exercise."

  • "To the frustration of people who'd tuned in to watch the candidates duke it out over key issues, his frequent soliloquies and long-winded questions took up a significant chunk of the 45-minute debate," writes Antonia Noori Farzan in the Washington Post. "Trebek prefaced one question by informing viewers that California has 40 state senators and 80 state assembly members, adding up to one legislator for every 325,000 citizens—a piece of trivia not particularly germane to the Pennsylvania governor's race."
  • At the Week, Kathryn Krawczyk points to a "downright embarrassing moment" when Trebek went on a "confusing tirade about partisanship" and then cut off Wagner when he tried to make a point about taxes. The move drew boos from the audience.
  • See a taste of the above moment via C-SPAN. The boos come toward the end.
  • More boos came when Trebek made an iffy joke. Referring to the state Legislature, he said "the only thing with a lower rating in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the Catholic Church," per Fox News. (It's a reference to priests' abuse of children in the state.) "Don't go there," Trebek then told the booing audience. "I was born and raised Catholic and I'm just as ticked off as everybody else is over what has happened with the Church."
  • Trebek then kept on going about his Catholic upbringing in what might have been the moment that stands out the most in a strange debate, writes John L. Micek at PennLive. "When I was a young teenager I attended a Catholic boarding school run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate," he said. "Two-hundred and fifty students, other boys and I, spent three years sharing the same accommodations 24/7 with 44 priests and not once in those three years was there any sexual misbehavior. ...." Etc.
  • As for the gubernatorial race, the Democratic incumbent, Wolf, has a comfortable lead in the polls, per the York Daily Record.
(Read more Alex Trebek stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.