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Why Viewers Of All Political Stripes Came To Appreciate Pat Sajak’s All-American Appeal


It’s a six-letter verb that’s also a state of mind.

“Wheel of Fortune” fans are reluctantly solving the puzzle following longtime host Pat Sajak’s stunning announcement.

The 76-year-old game show legend will “RETIRE” following the show’s 41st season, capping more than four decades entertaining audiences with the show’s signature brain teasers.

Forty-one years entering America’s living room on a daily basis. No scandals. No calls to replace the longtime host or attempts to cancel him for the wrong phrasing or off-screen antics. (the outrage over an undated photo taken with Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene gathered no real momentum)

It’s a stunning resume on any level, but it’s even more impressive given the tenor of the times and Sajak’s political leanings. He’s a conservative, although rarely one to throw sharp elbows at his ideological opponents either on screen or on social media.

Sajak’s understated sense of humor served him well over the decades, right through his retirement tweet:

“Well, the time has come. I’ve decided that our 41st season, which begins in September, will be my last. It’s been a wonderful ride, and I’ll have more to say in the coming months. Many thanks to you all. (If nothing else, it’ll keep the clickbait sites busy!)”

Those lucky enough to follow Sajak on Twitter (he has a robust 375K following) know the Emmy winner’s sardonic wit is a key reason for his success. He made self-deferential humor his calling card, using social media to make Right-leaning comments even Rachel Maddow might find funny.

He could summon hot-button issues and deploy them with just enough edge to make his thoughts known, sans anger. Sarcasm often doesn’t translate well to social media, but that never stopped Sajak from making his point.

“Having trouble finding information about Prince Harry and his wife (Meghan, I think). Any sources you might suggest?”

“Next time something happens in this country that I don’t like, I’m moving to Mexico. Nice people, good weather and I can avoid all the celebrities who keep saying they’re moving to Canada.”


Viewers saw his warm, reassuring presence as a rare port in a culture war storm. Many aren’t aware of his political leanings, and he kept that up by staying true to his apolitical mien when the “Wheel” cameras clicked on.

At its peak, “Wheel of Fortune” drew more than 40 million daily viewers, a sum no longer possible given the splintered TV landscape. The show’s nine million daily viewers, though, remains a staggering figure for a veteran showcase.

He’s taking a step back on his own terms, and at a time when his game show bona fides remain rock solid.

Fellow host Alex Trebek’s decades-long career as the host of “Jeopardy” came to an end following his terminal cancer diagnosis. Trebek and Sajak have plenty in common. They both made viewers feel at ease for years, embraced their shows’ simple pleasures and respected audiences for being so loyal despite the countless competition found on the modern TV landscape.

It’s why news that Whoopi Goldberg is angling to replace Sajak feels … wrong. Goldberg, best known of late for co-hosting TV’s most mean-spirited chat-fest, “The View,” would swiftly divide the show’s faithful audience.

A far better choice may be in the mix already. Ryan Seacrest is reportedly in talks to take the game show baton from Sajak. Like his predecessor, Seacrest isn’t a political flame thrower, and he understands how to unite viewers from both red and blue states.

Chances are he won’t match Sajak, who perfected his role and became an institution at a time when fewer stars are able, or even willing, to fulfill that role. 

Many stars today aggressively embrace their political leanings, using every bully pulpit possible to spread them far and wide. That’s no crime, but it does alienate large swathes of the audience depending on the ideological party in question.

Not Sajak.

Yes, he’s quietly been the chairman of the Board of Trustees at Hillsdale College, where traditional values thrive. And he’s served as an external director at Eagle Publishing. You’d never know it watching him cheer on contestants or gently tease those who, on occasion, allow a brain cramp to stop them from solving the puzzle du jour.

Not everyone is feting Sajak’s retirement. A bitter piece by The New Republic slammed Sajak as a “die-hard Right-wing host” even though he never brought his politics onto the “Wheel of Fortune” stage. It’s a primer in “guilt-by-association” personal attacks, balanced out by the equally far-Left Vice. That outlet tried and mostly failed to publish a hit piece on him a while ago.

“…some of Sajak’s tweets actually come off as pretty sharp and even kind of plugged in to the culture.”

Others brought up a rare tone-deaf tweet he issued, and later retracted, calling global warming alarmists “unpatriotic racists.” It’s possible it was part of a larger comic tweet thread given how it clashes with his steady public persona.

And, to be fair, the average liberal celebrity hurls far worse at Red State denizens on a daily basis.

Sajak hinted at his recent retirement news last year, understanding even beloved institutions have a limited shelf life. His comments suggested both why he’s endured for so long and why viewers of all political stripes came to appreciate his all-American appeal.

“… It’s an honor to have been in people’s living rooms for that long. People were out there welcoming us. We’re happy and proud.”

It’s a downright conservative message in 2023, though it was something everyone could cheer had he said it during his first few years with the show.

Here’s betting even progressive “Wheel of Fortune” fans will miss both him and that attitude when he hangs up his game show mic.

Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Daily Wire. 

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Why Viewers Of All Political Stripes Came To Appreciate Pat Sajak’s All-American Appeal