Alex Trebek, the Jeopardy! host roundly criticized for his Monday night performance as moderator of the lone Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate this fall, apologized Wednesday, saying he had "failed to recognize the seriousness of the event for the voters."
In a three-paragraph statement, Trebek said he was "naive" and "misunderstood" his role.
"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," he wrote. "I didn't realize I was to ask a simple question and then let the gentlemen go at each other."
While debate moderators typically ask questions and let the candidates talk, Trebek spoke at length — at times sharing his own policy opinions — during the 45-minute debate in Hershey between Gov. Wolf, a Democrat, and Republican Scott Wagner.
Frustration over Trebek's performance was compounded by the fact that Wolf, the front-runner, has refused to participate in more debates. Monday's debate was hosted by the state Chamber of Business and Industry and broadcast by Pennsylvania Cable Network.
Before the debate, Trebek, a 78-year-old Canadian American who has been the face of the game show for a quarter-century, ruminated in a fireside chat about his ties to the state. He said he was a fan of the 1960s Eagles championship team, and credited a Pennsylvania businessman — the president of Pep Boys — with introducing him to the woman who later became his wife.
In his mea culpa Wednesday, Trebek wrote: "I offer my sincere apologies to the people of Pennsylvania, a state I dearly love."