“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek has issued an apology for his performance as the moderator of the Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate earlier this week.
“I thought that as moderator, I was to provide a certain light-hearted approach while still being able to challenge the candidates on their record or positions,” Trebek wrote in a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I didn’t realize I was to ask a simple question and then let the gentlemen go at each other.”
The game show host was asked to host Monday’s debate between the two candidates for Pennsylvania governor, incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf and Republican challenger Scott Wagner. At the top of the evening, Trebek delivered a lengthy monologue to the audience, explaining why he accepted the request despite having no previous experience as a political moderator.
“I’m not a big fan of the traditional debate formats,” Trebek said, warning that he planned to take a “very different” approach to the debate. “I decided we’re going to have a conversation where I can ask questions, I can prod or I can challenge the candidates and who knows, maybe we will discover something new about their personalities their character that we didn’t know beforehand.”
Alex Trebek moderated #PAGov debate: "When I was asked by the Chamber if I would come here and be the moderator for this event I was not drunk. I accepted immediately. Didn't give it a second thought. What on earth was I thinking."
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 2, 2018
Trebek took a great deal of criticism from Pennsylvania voters who thought he spent too much of the allotted debate time speaking himself, without giving the candidates the opportunity to explain and defend their policy positions.
He also made several jokes — including one about systemic abuse within the Catholic Church — that landed on dead ears. At one point he found himself in an argument with Wagner over the state’s education spending.
In his statement of apology, Trebek said he was “naive” and “misunderstood” his role as moderator.
“I offer my sincere apologies to the people of Pennsylvania, a state I dearly love,” he said.