The decade's most triggering comedy
Late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel admitted during a Wednesday podcast appearance that he may have lost half of his audience — possibly even more than that — when he made a conscious choice to bash former President Donald Trump.
Kimmel discussed the issue with the “Naked Lunch” podcast host and “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal, and he explained that he decided he could not in good conscience lay off the former president for the sake of his own show’s success.
“Does ABC ever say to you, ‘Hey, could you not just attack this side and lay off a little bit? Cause we are gonna lose those people?’” Rosenthal asked, noting that Kimmel’s animosity extended to a number of Republicans other than just Trump.
“There was at one time, maybe, I don’t know, like right around the beginning of this whole like Trump thing where — ” Kimmel began, but Rosenthal interrupted.
“This is now eight years ago?” he asked.
“Yeah. Something like that. Maybe not quite that long ago that that was like kind of hinted at. But I just said, ‘Listen, I get it. I mean, I don’t disagree. I mean, you’re right. I have lost half of my fans — maybe more than that,’” Kimmel replied.
Kimmel went on to say that, prior to that, research had suggested that he was pretty popular among Republicans — and he added that he had even been willing to give up the show if that was what ABC wanted from him.
“And I get it, if that’s what they want to do, I just said, ‘Listen, if that’s what you wanna do, I understand and I don’t begrudge you for it, but I’m not going to do that. So, you know, if you want somebody else to host the show, then that’s fine. That’s okay with me. I’m just not gonna do it like that,’” he explained, adding that ABC had ultimately allowed him the freedom to make that choice.
“They knew I was serious. I mean, you know … I couldn’t live with myself,” he said.
Rosenthal appeared to agree, telling Kimmel that what he and fellow late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers were doing — with regard to attacking Republicans from their large platforms — amounted to a “public service.”
“You’re the guys who make us feel like we’re not alone,” Rosenthal said.
“You know, I love this country, too,” Kimmel said, arguing that he didn’t see it as a public service so much as just something he needed to do. “I mean, you know, that flag doesn’t belong to them. This is ours. And when I see somebody coming in and ruining it, I’m gonna say something about it. That’s it. That’s as simple as that.”
Fellow comedian Bill Maher took the opposite position, noting that while he was perfectly willing to attack Trump, he didn’t extend that animosity toward Trump’s voters. “It’s half the country,” he explained.
Listen to the Naked Lunch podcast below: