It was not to be. Claire McNear’s reporting at The Ringer, in particular, kept coming. She talked to more people about Richards as a producer, and she found old episodes from a The Price Is Right behind-the-scenes podcast literally called The Randumb Show. (My friends… I beg you, don’t call your work-related podcast that). In that show, Richards made a variety of remarks about women and their bodies and how they dress—he refers to his own co-host’s past modeling work being a “booth slut” and “booth ho.” This was in 2013-14, after the lawsuits in which models claimed the environment at The Price Is Right was harassing and discriminatory. So when he said later that he now realizes how unacceptable those comments were, it was hard not to wonder how having seen his show sued over its treatment of models wasn’t adequate to suggest to him that he should pull back from calling his co-host a “booth slut.”
These remarks also happened on episodes that McNear says were pulled off the internet and their hosting site deleted after The Ringer asked about them. In a sequence of events already plagued by bad optics, this was… well, it was more bad optics.
Fast-forward a couple of days, and his time as host (or pre-host, or putative host, or host-in-waiting) is over.
It’s temping to take this apart piece by piece, isolate the individual bits of information that seemed to put this situation over the top. But really, why? This went in a maddeningly predictable way. It was like watching a rubber ball bounce down a flight of stairs: isolated parts of the trajectory might be surprising, but the end result was always going to be the same. This was always a bad idea, and it got worse, and they dug in their heels and tried to ride it out, and it got worse again, and now it’s over. It’s an utterly unforced error from a show that had every opportunity to find someone who would not have had to resign, as the putative host of Jeopardy! for crying out loud, for being too controversial.
Two questions remain.
First, in a world in which every choice like this is scrutinized, was Claire McNear really the first person to raise questions about that podcast? Why wouldn’t there be someone involved in the process whose job it was, given the fact that there had been lawsuits directed at The Price Is Right during his tenure, to listen to what he was saying about the show while he was working on it? It’s true that you can’t vet everything, but it’s also true that if a guy wants to make a show about work called The Randumb Show, you might want to send an intern over to transcribe a couple episodes for you, just to make sure it’s not this. Did they do it and hope it wouldn’t come out, or did they not do it at all?