Alex Trebek Took A Swipe At The Catholic Church While Moderating Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Debate, And It Did Not Go Over Well

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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  • “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek joked that only the Catholic Church had a lower approval rating than the state’s legislature, then hijacked the debate time to lecture the audience about the church.
  • Trebek explained that he wanted the debate to have a more conversational and less traditional format.
  • Those who watched the debate mocked Trebek’s performance as moderator, saying it was one of the least informative debates they had seen.

Alex Trebek used a Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate he was moderating to lecture the audience about the Catholic Church after joking at the church’s expense.

The audience booed the renowned “Jeopardy!” host midway through the Monday debate between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican challenger Scott Wagner after Trebek joked about the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis. He said the state legislature’s approval rating is “the only thing with a lower rating in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the Catholic Church.” The audience met Trebek’s joke with a chorus of boos, to which he responded with an impromptu speech about the Catholic Church. (RELATED: Catholic Lay Group Devotes Over $1 Million To Expose Cardinals Guilty Of Abuse Or Cover-Ups)

Those watching the debate complained that Trebek’s speech was out of place in the context of the debate and detracted greatly from the time that candidates would normally have to speak about policy issues.

“Don’t go there,” Trebek said as the audience jeered, according to The Washington Post. “I was born and raised in the Catholic Church and I’m just as ticked off as everybody else is over what has happened with the church.”


Trebek then proceeded to launch into his speech, sparking ire from online viewers who responded with “Alex, shut up” and “When do we get to hear from the candidates?” and other like comments.

When I was a young teenager I attended a Catholic boarding school run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. 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. Now boys are pretty sharp, we talk, we would have known. So I believe that there are Catholic priests out there who are able to minister to their congregations without preying — that’s P-R-E-Y — on the young people.

The game show host explained at the beginning of the debate that he had agreed to moderate it on the condition that he be allowed to break from normal debate format and give it a more conversational tone.

“When I was asked by the Chamber if I would come here and be the moderator for this event, I was not drunk,” Trebek joked, according to Fox News. “I accepted immediately. Didn’t give it a second thought … Obviously, I’m not as bright as some of you people in the audience think I am.”

His efforts to achieve that tone included beginning the debate with a trivia question about the Philadelphia Eagles, debating with the audience about the merits of a severance tax on natural gas, lecturing the candidates about civility and their state’s political shortcomings, and describing a drive he took through the state.

Those who viewed the debate roundly mocked Trebek’s performance, with some calling it one of the worst and least informative debates they had seen, given the fact that he “devoured most of the oxygen,” as Patriot-News opinion editor John L. Micek wrote.

“Horrible gubernatorial debate moderators for $1,000,” Republican strategist Mike Barley joked. “Who is Alex Trebek?”

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