Image via Flickr user Smata2
Even If you don't normally read the tweets of gameshow ding-dongs like I do, you might already know that Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak shot his mouth off about climate change on Monday morning. He tweeted "I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends. Good night," triggering a humdrum category 2 Twitter shitstorm. It wasn't really anything to batten down the hatches for, but it got pretty windy for a while.
I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends. Good night.— Pat Sajak (@patsajak) May 20, 2014
Here's a sampling of the hilarity:What got mentioned relatively little was his recent hobby of being a marginally successful internet troll, seemingly grasping for controversy every time he has some downtime and access to his phone. A few publications looked into it though. And lo it was revealed to the world that Pat Sajak has been tweeting right-wing dad jokes and Andy Rooney-esque observations for years.
Even though I told him it was settled folklore, my young nephew remains a Tooth Fairy denier. (Those kids today!)— Pat Sajak (@patsajak) May 19, 2014
My interest in Al Gore— Pat Sajak (@patsajak) May 7, 2014
Prediction: Next big— Pat Sajak (@patsajak) April 30, 2014
So given the pattern, it was only a matter of time before this happened. His age is getting blamed, but that's a red herring. If we just had to be ageist about it, and if the "global warming alarmists" tweet had been an isolated incident, dementia might be a plausible culprit. One might even think the whole trend toward conservatism could be the product of an aging mind. But some of Sajak's tweets actually come off as pretty sharp and even kind of plugged in to the culture:
To boost career, planning to post, delete & apologize for offensive tweet later. Blaming hackers or prescription drugs.— Pat Sajak (@patsajak) March 17, 2014
Two years ago he got some media traction by admitting that he'd been shitfaced while on TV for much of his career. It was, I thought at the time, a tiny chink in the armor of a bland, uncontroversial minor celebrity. I still barely blinked.
Over the years, a few people might have also directed me to his history of donating money to republican causes. That was another piece of news that I doubt rattled me. Most showbiz types are liberals, but given Pat Sajak's audience, who can blame him for being conservative? Wheel of Fortune is perfect for people who want everything to stay the same forever.
Still, there's letting the public have the occasional peek at your sincerely held conservative beliefs, like Tom Selleck or James Earl Jones, and then there's what Sajak is doing: letting his conservative freak flag fly.
And granted, there are plenty of figures out there like Stephen Baldwin or Charlton Heston who basically get "republican" tattooed on their foreheads. But you lose half of America when you do that. Unlike being a politically active Democrat, being an active Republican in showbiz is a factoid that ends up in your obituary.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for some kind of privilege check among America's celebrity leftists. I really could not care less that being a Democrat in Hollywood is normal and being a Republican is weird. I'm just fascinated by what Pat Sajak is voluntarily giving up.
He could have been one of those friendly TV faces everyone likes. People like Al Roker or Steve Carrel might have political beliefs you can uncover if you Google hard enough, but they're so damn likable. They seem preternaturally impossible to hate. At one time, I would have put Pat Sajak in that category.
It's not that I'd choose to be the kind of figure everyone likes at the cost of being someone who can express my opinions freely. It's just that in my line of work, I'm told several times a day to kill myself by some internet rando or another. Every once in a while it sounds nice to be liked by everyone. That's just not for me, and I guess it's not for Pat either.
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