CNN Hosts Exasperated After Jeopardy Contestants Have No Clue Who Biden's SCOTUS Pick Is


It’s telling when contestants on the game show “Jeopardy!” don’t know who someone is — particularly a “history-making” Supreme Court appointment from President Joe Biden.

And no, we’re not talking “Celebrity Jeopardy!” contestants, either; Sean Connery wasn’t involved in this one. Instead, it was competitors in the show’s “Tournament of Champions” — the best of the best, in other words.

In a show aired last Wednesday, for instance, contestants were able to answer questions like these, as per “Jeopardy!” question-and-answer (or answer-and-question) index J-Archive:

“Apiarists know this word can mean a rumor or enthusiasm.” (“What is buzz?”) “‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ & ‘Metropolis’ were part of the golden age of cinema in this German ‘Republic.'” (“What is the Weimar Republic?”) “Charles-Francois Daubigny was one of the first painters to work this way, meaning outside.” (“What is en plein air?”)

Two out of three of the contestants got final jeopardy, too: “A trip to El Paso with his young son & wondering what the city might look like years in the future inspired a novel by this author.” (“Who is Cormac McCarthy?” I mean, duh.)

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And yet, nobody could name Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson when asked this:

Cue the febrile outrage from this left-leaning network. (“What is CNN? No, really, I can’t find it anywhere on the list of top-rated cable shows. Is it still around?”)

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On Friday, CNN finally got around to playing the clip, over a week and a half after the episode first aired. (“CNN: Yesterday’s news, today!”) After watching all three contestants miff on it, morning-show co-host Don Lemon took off his glasses and sighed theatrically.

While co-host Kaitlan Collins said it wasn’t “that surprising” the people didn’t know it, Lemon wasn’t having it: “These are smart people, though!”

They are smart people, though. In fact, they were able to answer four out of five questions in a separate category about the Supreme Court: “RBG dissented in the 2000 case Bush v. him” (“Who is Gore?”), “2022’s West Virginia v. this federal agency went in favor of West Virginia” (“What is the EPA?”), “1896’s him (train passenger) v. him (judge) was decided 7-1 for the wrong guy” (“What is Plessy v. Ferguson?”) and “2015’s him v. him upheld the right to same-sex marriage” (“What is Obergefell v. Hodges?”).

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Co-host Poppy Harlow also expressed her disappointment that the contestants didn’t get it. “She was just confirmed, it’s been in the news!” Harlow said.

Lemon went on to say that this would make sense if these were people asked the question “outside a mall” or “on the street.”

“Those people might not know,” Lemon said. “But when you’re smart enough to be a contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’?”

It’s interesting to visualize a cartoon lightbulb briefly appear above Lemon’s head, flicker a bit, then watch the filament burn out entirely. Of all the possible lessons he could learn from smart people not knowing who Ketanji Brown Jackson is, the answer he settles on is that they’re really not all that smart.

Perhaps it’s that the “history-making” aspect of this pick was sharply reduced by the fact Biden had promised to put a black woman on the court, making the debate over her nomination less about her accomplishments or decisions and more about whether identity should trump qualifications.

Or maybe it’s the fact that “Jeopardy!” referred to Brown Jackson as a “woman.” After all, when Tennessee GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn asked the judge what a woman was during her confirmation hearings, Brown Jackson infamously responded that she was “not a biologist.” They’re not biologists, either:

Whatever the case, the jury is in: People are less interested in Ketanji Brown Jackson than the folks at CNN are. I would have buzzed in, personally — but then, not knowing what an apiarist is, I wouldn’t have been on the stage.

However, the three contestants and I have one advantage over the justice: At least we can all say what a woman is, most likely.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture