Drawing a blank: 'Jeopardy!' contestants don't know Schiff about Adam

We have a little routine in my house. Like lots of families, we sit down and eat dinner together. We tape the game show Jeopardy when it airs during the afternoon so that we can watch it during dinner. It’s a bonding thing as we sharpen our minds and learn a few facts along the way. Yes, we are a nerd family.

Wednesday’s show included verification that even three really smart people are not paying close enough attention to the impeachment circus to recognize the face of one of its ringleaders. My attention always rises when a political category is introduced and this time was no different. The category was “U.S. Representatives”. The political categories are my favorites and this one did not disappoint.

The reigning champ, Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, a librarian from Portland, Oregon, was competing for a third day’s win. Her fellow contestants were Laura Thomason, an English professor from Lizella, GA; and Oishee Shemontee, a tutor from Arcadia, CA. The question posed by host Alex Trebek was accompanied by a photograph that appeared on the screen.

Vichit-Vadakan chose a question from the “U.S. Representatives” and Trebek read the question: “One fifty-third of California’s House delegation is this Intelligence Committee chairman.” Then he waited for an answer. None of the three contestants buzzed in with an answer. Awkward. Then Trebek provided the correct answer – “His name is Adam Schiff.”

I laughed. My husband chuckled. One of the contestants was even from California. This was particularly amusing due to the timing of the show’s broadcast. The very day that Adam Schiff and the other Democrats named as impeachment managers from the House walked over the impeachment papers to the Senate, garnering lots of airtime throughout the day, three Jeopardy contestants had no idea who he was, even after being shown a photograph.

Poor Adam. He has jumped in front of cameras at every possible opportunity for three years now. His antics began during the Russia, Russia, Russia days and the Mueller report, and then moved on to the phone call to the Ukrainian president. He’s been caught in lies repeatedly and has been labeled a leaker along the way. Yet, the contestants on Jeopardy still didn’t know his face. No one even guessed the answer.

One excuse is being offered – the game show is taped about three months in advance.

An article by Insider notes that “Jeopardy!” typically films its episodes approximately three months in advance. That places the timeline of Wednesday night’s episode around October, when the House was still holding closed-door briefings and the impeachment inquiry was just gaining steam.

Fair enough but that still doesn’t lessen the blow to Schiff’s massive ego. His face should have been recognizable to people keeping up on current events and American politics, like Jeopardy contestants, even before the impeachment process actually began. Schiff’s been a camera hog since Trump’s inauguration, for heaven’s sake. He and his fellow Democrats pushing the impeachment of President Trump must be surprised to realize that most of America isn’t paying a lot of attention to them.

Recently American politics produced a social media kerfuffle for the producers of Jeopardy. Last Friday a question was asked from the category of famous churches. The question asked contestants to identify a location with this clue: “Built in 300s AD, the Church of the Nativity.” Then this happened:

Contestant Katie Needle answered, “What is Palestine?” and host Alex Trebek said she was incorrect. Her opponent, Jack McGuire, answered “what is Israel?” and was awarded $200.

The show was immediately attacked on social media. The church, in Bethlehem, is located in the West Bank. Some countries recognize that as the state of Palestine while others, including the United States, do not.

“Jeopardy!” producers, in a statement on the show’s website Monday, said they realized the question was problematic and replaced it with another. The outcome of the game was not affected.

The uncorrected version of the episode ended up running with the question anyway, as it turned out. The look of surprise on Ms. Needle’s face was noticeable. I remember thinking that she was a young woman, not long out of her college days, and no doubt exposed to liberal anti-semitic narratives that are prevalent on college campuses these days. She thought the Church of the Nativity was located in Palestine.