Ken Jennings ate my baby
In case you've missed the furor: Last week, Ken Jennings you know, the guy who won 74 straight games on America's favorite quiz show posted an "Open Letter" to Jeopardy! on his blog, in which he made a number of snide ripostes about the show and its host, Alex Trebek. (For one thing, Ken implied that Alex is a robot. Which I'm not saying is true, but would explain a few things.)
Before you could say "Brad Rutter," Michael Starr, a writer for the Post a tabloid not exactly renowned for its thoughtful and accurate reportage had published an article stating that Ken was bashing Jeopardy! on his blog.
The entertainment press went ballistic, as the entertainment press is wont to do. Within a day, every news outlet from the Associated Press to CNN screamed Ken's disloyalty and ingratitude to a ravening public.
Can't anyone take a joke anymore?
If you read Ken's original post, it's clear at least, to anyone who's functionally literate and possesses mental faculties unclouded by pharmaceuticals or deadline pressure that he's writing with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. Maybe the satire works, maybe it doesn't humor is a notoriously subjective beast but satire it is.
I've never met Mr. Jennings personally, but through my experience in the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions last year, as well as via personal correspondence with others in our little fraternity, I know quite a few people who have made Ken's acquaintance. All are unanimously agreed that Ken would be an unlikely person to rip Jeopardy! in a serious manner, either publicly or privately. He doesn't appear to be the sort who'd slay the goose who's laid several golden eggs for him.
Let's face it: Ken is known to both J! fans and former contestants as a guy with a lively and quirky sense of humor, and I'm certain that the folks at Jeopardy! know that all too well, given the amount of time he spent on their set. I'd be shocked if anyone associated with the show read his screed and took it with anything except good humor. Because everything goes better with an ice cream bar, especially in L.A. in July.
Then again, Ken's new book about his J! experiences is being published by Random House in a couple of months. I'm thinking the New York Post and the rest of the news media just sold him a few thousand advance copies.
In Jeopardy! as in life, there is no such thing as bad publicity.