Before his Jeopardy! guest-hosting duties, Bill Whitaker worked on far different subjects. Mainly, the 60 Minutes journalist asked questions and demanded answers.
Now, the script flips. On Jeopardy! Whitaker reads the answers and asks for the questions. Whitaker also is seeing his name pop up in all sorts of different spots, which probably rarely mentioned him before his turn on the quiz show.
“I have been really blown away by the coverage this all gets,” Whitaker told the Washington Post about his Jeopardy! run.
“I truly did think, silly me, that I was going to be a Jeopardy! guest host and carry on with my life as usual,” he said. “But these hosts: They’re gossiped about, they’re tweeted about, they’re in People magazine, the Hollywood Reporter. I’m going, ‘Oh my God, I had no idea that this was going to be this wild and crazy.’”
Whitaker is 69. His broadcast career dates back to 1979. He joined CBS News in 1984. Back in 2014, the network promoted him to 60 Minutes, its most popular show for long-form journalism.
Before Jeopardy! Whitaker Reported on Vaccines and Grizzly Bears
Before his agent called and asked Whitaker if he’d like to do a guest spot on Jeopardy!, Whitaker had worked on so many complicated, multi-layered stories. Back in December, he was explaining the development of the Pfizer vaccine to treat Covid-19. Last October, he was in Montana, reporting on Grizzly bears in Yellowstone.
He reported on the capture of drug kingpin Joaquin “el Chapo” Guzman. You might have seen his recent interview with Chanel Miller. Back in 2015, she went by the court name ‘Jane Doe,” the victim of a brutal rape by Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. With Whitaker, she revealed her identity and talked about trying to reclaim her identity.
So now, this award-winning journalist who has covered presidential campaigns, international disasters and everything in between, is moderating Jeopardy!
Whitaker and Wife Always Tried to Watch Quiz Show
That’s cool with him. He and his wife always tried to watch Jeopardy! when Alex Trebek was the host. Trebek died in November and Whitaker said he’s honored to carry on a part of Trebek’s legacy.
“Everybody liked Alex Trebek,” Whitaker told the Washington Post. “So it was intimidating and wonderful to be tapped to stand on the same stage where he ruled for so long. He was always kind and personable and he seemed to be brilliant himself. He made the contestants feel welcome and appreciated.
“There’s so many things to think about, so many moving parts. To be able to do that and make the contestants all feel as though his focus is on them, that’s remarkable.”
Whitaker’s final week of Jeopardy! shows start Monday.