Ken Jennings defended his podcast partner, that abusive ‘Bean Dad’ douche

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Ken Jennings has been making a surprising amount of news in recent weeks. Jennings was given the job as interim host of Jeopardy after Alex Trebek’s passing, and basically as soon as that happened, people began digging through his old tweets to find the most problematic stuff. Some of the worst tweets were ableist sh-t about women in wheelchairs. Jennings actually tried to apologize, and I personally think he could have “gotten away” with it if that was the only scandal. But then Bean Dad happened. In case you weren’t on Twitter over the weekend, a dude named John Roderick went viral for telling a lengthy, multi-tweet story about how he refused to feed his nine-year-old daughter for six hours because she couldn’t figure out how to open a can of beans herself, all while Roderick refused to show her how a manual can opener actually works. Roderick was called abusive – and I agree – and he lost his sh-t on Twitter because people were rightly horrified at his story. Turns out, Roderick and Jennings cohost a podcast together. Ugh.

Ken Jennings is defending his podcast co-host John Roderick following a controversy that saw the latter labeled “Bean Dad.” That, in turn, led to some social media users accusing Roderick of “child abuse” and then digging up old tweets that they charged are racist, anti-semitic and homophobic.

Jennings and Roderick co-host the podcast Omnibus, which is described as “an encyclopedic reference work of strange-but-true stories that they are compiling as a time capsule for future generations.” Over the weekend, Roderick shared a lengthy story on Twitter about teaching his 9-year-old daughter how to use a can opener. The gist was that she was hungry and so he told her to make some baked beans. He was incredulous upon learning that she did not know how to open the can and decided this was an opportunity for a “Teaching Moment.” After six hours, which included “tears” and his daughter “collaps[ing] in a frustrated heap” — his words — she figured it out.

What caught the attention of many on Twitter was the fact that he told her they would not eat until she figured out how to use the can opener. “Sweetheart, neither of us will eat another bite today until we get into this can of beans,” he tweeted of what he told her. Many criticized his parenting style for refusing to feed her or help her, with some charging it was “child abuse.”

Jennings — the author and Jeopardy! champion who was chosen to serve as intern host of the game show following the death of longtime host Alex Trebek, who died in November after a battle with pancreatic cancer — on Sunday defended Roderick amid the criticism of his parenting style. “If this reassures anyone, I personally know John to be (a) a loving and attentive dad who (b) tells heightened-for-effect stories about his own irascibility on like ten podcasts a week. This site is so dumb,” he wrote, referring to Twitter.

However, the controversy did not stop there. Those folks who were upset about his initial thread started digging into his past tweets. These tweets, captured in screenshots and on the Wayback Machine’s website, included Roderick’s defending the use of racist and homophobic slurs. Many also included anti-semitic sentiments and several referred to Hitler. Roderick has deleted his account since the controversy broke out.

When asked about Roderick’s “weird anti Semitic sh-t” on Twitter, Jennings replied that Roderick is “always the pro-Israel one” on their podcast and then added: “There’s no axis where any anti-Semitic screenshot represents any actual opinion I’ve ever heard from him.”

[From THR]

This is so messy, so I’ll just make a list so I can bring some order to things: A) John Roderick is an abusive father and I hope his wife or ex-wife uses that deranged Twitter thread to get sole custody of their daughter; B) it’s the weakest, dumbest sh-t to go crazy about being justifiably criticized on Twitter… and then deleting your whole account; C) I’m actually kind of shocked that Ken Jennings is gross, because I always thought he was the one former champion who was kind of decent and nerd-cool, but it turns out he sucks too; and D) I guess this means that Jennings won’t be taking over Jeopardy permanently, right?

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46 Responses to “Ken Jennings defended his podcast partner, that abusive ‘Bean Dad’ douche”

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  1. Evenstar says:

    They should’ve chosen LeVar Burton as the new host.

    • Leah says:

      Came here to say that! Also he wants to be the host!

    • Team Burton. Put a professional in a professional job, not some problematic ex-winner. As Maya Angelou said, “When someone tells you who they are the first time, believe them.” I think Ken’s Twitter feed — written by him, in his own words, tells us exactly who he is. Now, he would rather downplay his own words and bash Twitter as —- what is it he says above? …..”this site (Twitter) is so dumb.” Well, Ken was the one who couldn’t keep his mouth shut on it. In the category of ‘Your Time is Over,’ Do you know how to spell, ACCOUNTABILITY, Ken?

      ADDED: After reading that tweet thread via Athrymose at No. 5 link below, the network would be crazy to keep him on. What a nasty piece of work. Just goes to show, you can be smart and still be a bigoted, mysogenistic ass.

    • amanda says:

      Exactly. He was so great on Reading Rainbow and would be perfect for Jeopardy.

  2. Lunasf17 says:

    Whoa! I feel like this happens so often, someone becomes somewhat famous and then their old tweets surface and all hell breaks loose. Can’t you delete offensive tweets (or not tweet offensive crap at all)?! I know the world was a different place in 2008 or whenever Twitter started and as a society we have become less accepting of this crap but come on. I’m not in Twitter so I have not read of these tweets myself but it sounds like mess.

  3. Naomi says:

    let’s not forget that bean dad deleted his account because a bunch of sleuths dug up tweets of his that were antisemitic and racist (using the n-word). trash.

  4. Heylee says:

    I honestly don’t understand how adults are given so many passes when they display bad behavior? Or maybe it’s just the white dudes who are getting passes? The “joke” about the woman in a wheel chair was enough for me to make the judgement that this dude is crummy, full stop. A grown man with a high level of intelligence takes to Twitter (public forum) to make a “joke” about a woman in a wheel chair. That’s enough for me to make my grown up assessment that he’s not my kind of people.

  5. Athyrmose says:

    Someone put together a very detailed thread of Ken’s bigoted tweets. There have been…many.

  6. isabel says:

    Mormons gonna Mormon is all I can think here. And yes why didn’t they pick LeVar?!

  7. Kalana says:

    The racist and anti-semitic tweets have my jaw on the floor. There’s no way Jennings didn’t know at least about the anti-semitism.

    Also teach your kid how to use a can opener. If she doesn’t pay attention, then the next time tell her to figure it out. Roderick’s behavior was just stupid because his daughter is learning she shouldn’t go to her dad for help because he won’t help her anyway.

    • Meghan says:

      I’m 33 and sometimes I have trouble clamping the can opener down enough to actually break through. My son is only 4 but I cant imagine being all “just figure it out,” especially about food.

      I will say that his new thing is to decline food I offer to make, say he is not hungry, then as soon as I make myself something, he suddenly wants a food I had mentioned before. I usually make him wait until I am done with mine but I explain to him why he has to wait. I mean it’s 15 minutes at most? Not 6 freaking hours to the point of tears. (He also has easy to grab snacks available to him all day and sometimes cons me out of whatever I am eating!)

      • derps says:

        the way you are doing it is fine, and backed up by lots of solid research and science literature. keep it up.

  8. Christine says:

    It’s amazing to me how people who find themselves in the spotlight don’t just wipe all their social media accounts and start fresh. Your stuff could still be out there, but it would be harder to find. That doesn’t excuse posting that stuff in the first place, but it seems like it would be common sense, yet so many celebrities get called out for their past tweets.

    • SomeChick says:

      They don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Or they wouldn’t have said it in the first place. All the rest – apologies and so forth – is just pr.

  9. Hope Rutten says:

    It’s not final who the new host of Jeopardy will be. Ken is the first in a line-up of “guest hosts.” From what I’ve read, producers are trying to find the best fit for the show. Whole Alex did like Ken, I don’t think he was 100% set on him being his successor. I really think Alex wanted to let things play out – maybe someone who guest hosts will come out shining. Whoever it is has massive shoes to fill – I don’t think Alex has had any scandals. He lived a good life and really tried to be a good person. Which, is kind of sad if we can’t find someone in that respect.

    This week is going to be hard to watch his final episodes. I’m reading his autobiography right now and Alex was such a funny man.

  10. elleeyebee says:

    Also, I’d just like to add that defending someone against criticism that they are anti-Semitic by saying that they are “the pro-Israel one” is… so not a good look. I really liked Ken Jennings until this stuff. Super disappointing.

  11. CV says:

    Ken Jennings blocked me on twitter years ago bc I called him out for making a dumb joke about how anyone who says “croissant” the proper way should be murdered. No, I didn’t say he was calling for actual murder but I think I said something about it was a bit extreme? and snowflake blocked me.

    So yeah, he’s a dork and bad and possibly worse.

  12. Amelie says:

    Omg I saw the Bean Dad thread yesterday on Twitter before the guy deleted his account. I’m guessing the guy grossly overexaggerated a very minor story. Apparently he does this a lot on his own podcast (separate from the one he does with Ken Jennings I guess?) and plays this “character” on the podcast. But even if that is all true, to use 23 tweets to retell an incredibly tedious story and to stretch it out for THAT long… the guy’s writing was insufferable and I skimmed most of the tweets as I really couldn’t stand what I was reading. And if the story isn’t some huge embellishment of what I’m guessing probably lasted all of 15 minutes in real life, yes he’s an a-hole and abusive.

    • molly says:

      Also, leave your kid out of this! if you want to tell an exaggerated story to the world about being a dick, using an account with your full name, don’t drag your child into it all. She didn’t ask to be the co-star to his weekend twitter fame.

  13. TheOriginalMia says:

    Ken Jennings is trash. He may have wanted that Jeopardy job, but he definitely isn’t getting it now. There was no defense of Can Opener dad. I call him that because the original Bean Dad is Andrew Kaczynski, who lost his daughter to cancer last week, and people thought it was him. John Roderick is straight up trash for what he did, and probably has done, to his daughter. Mom should be alarmed.

  14. Miranda says:

    “Pro-Israel” is not synonymous with “pro-Jewish”. Many Christian Zionists are some of the most anti-Semitic people you’ll ever meet. Their support for Israel is not based on a fondness for Jews or Judaism, but on the necessity of a Jewish state to fulfill the biblical Second Coming prophecy. And even then, they would much prefer that all those Jews convert to Christianity, so in effect, they’re supporting at least cultural genocide. That’s pretty anti-Semitic.

    (To be clear, I don’t know Roderick’s religious affiliation, but I just have to call bullshit when it’s suggested that a person can’t be both pro-Israel AND anti-Semitic. Hell, plenty of Nazis were a little squeamish about the whole “ruthless extermination” thing and wanted to ship all the Jews to Madagascar instead. They just didn’t want them to be Germany’s “problem” anymore.)

  15. Jennifer says:

    I’m not glad this guys version of a teachable moment was anything but. What a tool. I am glad that this shows even more why Ken Jennings should not get the permanent hosting gig now as he shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with. LeVar Burton all the way.

  16. osito says:

    If the child is typically functioning, the story Bean Dad describes screams “learned helplessness” to me, and is indicative of a chaotic (at least) and/or traumatic (at most) environment. The story as told is one of stress, emotional, and nutritional abuse, and the telling of it on such a large platform — which would be humiliating for most people if they were the daughter — is abusive in and of itself. Even if it is hyperbole and the interaction was only an hour or a few minutes, then we have to believe that this man really made his daughter out to be a buffoon for twitter likes, when in fact she quickly solved his insane little puzzle. If the child is not typically functioning, what this is doesn’t even need to be said…

    What I don’t understand is how this mess keeps happening — how are people still elevating dough-faced schmucks to prominent, public-facing positions without vetting them and their professional networks very carefully? How do you get to the point where *members of the public* are doing things like basic background checks on the dude selected to replace one of the most beloved figures in recent American television history?

  17. Implicit says:

    That man will not be allowed unsupervised visits I am putting that on the frequency what a vile POS

  18. MM2 says:

    Birds of a feather…..Bean Dad’s tweets led to an unearthing of Ken Jenning’s past horrifically racist, islamophobic & homophobic tweets. Can I send his “friend” Keith a sympathy card?

  19. Joy says:

    Ken has all the charisma of a boiled potato. This was never going to work even if he wasn’t a dbag.

    • Teresa says:

      Alex had a sharp clear voice. Ken’s voice is meek and he doesn’t enunciate. I so massively do not want him as host much less permanently and that was before his dickish tweets. No more platforms for shitty men please.

  20. paranormalgirl says:

    I would love to see LeVar Burton. Or Brad Rutter. My dream would be Austin Rogers, but he’s a little out there. LOL

  21. Sam the Pink says:

    Roderick strikes me as a man who thinks he is just HIGHBROW with his SATIRE and rapier WIT, we are just unable to understand him. The whole thread (all 20+ tweets of it) was just a dense fog of smugness – and of course he’s from Seattle. Of course he is.

  22. Annetommy says:

    Don’t know either of these two but they sound pretty obnoxious. Sidebar: I haven’t bought baked beans recently but when I do buy something in a can – soup, sweet corn etc – the can is usually a ring pull (U.K.). Much easier.

  23. Valerie says:

    I unfollowed Ken Jennings this morning. He’s proof that intellectual intelligence isn’t synonymous with emotional intelligence. I used to think he would make a good host, but I’ve changed my mind. Let’s get Levar!

  24. JRenee says:

    At this juncture, any one not doing a research of job candidates social media is doing a disservice to themselves and their brand.
    Alex Trebek was widely known, respected and admired by millions.
    This guy doesn’t have the personality to fill such huge shoes and now you realize he’s a jerk

  25. Beech says:

    Dinosaur here which I emphasize because when I was a kid there were no flip top cans or electric can openers. Why didn’t the guy show his daughter how to use an opener? A sadistic dick along with all his other failings.