It’s been over a month since a string of ableist tweets posted by upcoming “Jeopardy” guest host Ken Jennings were rediscovered on Twitter. In that time, Jennings has been quiet about the controversy, but he is now responding to his fans and offering up an apology.
In a thread posted to his personal Twitter earlier Wednesday, Jennings said: “I just wanted to own up to the fact that over the years on Twitter, I’ve definitely tweeted some unartful and insensitive things. Sometimes they worked as jokes in my head and I was dismayed to see how they read on screen.”
He explains his decision to leave the tweets up for years after the fact as an attempt to avoid “whitewashing a mistake.” “I’d usually leave bad tweets up just so they could be dunked on. At least that way they could lead to smart replies and even advocacy,” Jennings wrote. “Sometimes I said dumb things in a dumb way and I want to apologize to people who were (rightfully!) offended. It wasn’t my intention to hurt anyone, but that doesn’t matter: I screwed up, and I’m truly sorry.”
Hey, I just wanted to own up to the fact that over the years on Twitter, I've definitely tweeted some unartful and insensitive things. Sometimes they worked as jokes in my head and I was dismayed to see how they read on screen. 1/x
This is not the first time Jennings has had to apologize for offensive tweets. In 2018 he broached the topic saying: “I never did a public flogging for this but I did apologize personally to angry/hurt people who reached out personally. It was a joke so inept that it meant something very different in my head [and] I regret the ableist plain reading of it.”
Examples of Jennings past ableism include a 2014 tweet saying: “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair,” as well as posting “It can’t be a good sign that every fan who has seen the new Star Wars movie died shortly thereafter,” in response to the death of Daniel Fleetwood, a “Star Wars” fan who died of cancer and wanted to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” before his death in 2015.
Jennings’ name has been on list of possible successor to the “Jeopardy” game show after the passing of long-time host Alex Trebek. His problematic tweets were brought up by viewers almost immediately, including by host and actress Yvette Nicole Brown, after Jennings was announced as participating in a series of guest hosting positions for “Jeopardy” in January.