Kimmel: I Had to Go After Trump, Regardless of Cost

Late-night host said he lost half his audience over his jokes about Donald Trump
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2022 7:00 AM CDT

Jimmy Kimmel says telling jokes about Donald Trump cost him half his audience, but he'd do it all again. According to ABC's research, "10 years ago, among Republicans I was the most popular talk show," the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host said on Thursday's episode of Stitcher's Naked Lunch podcast. But as Trump hit the political scene, becoming a punching bag for late night hosts like Kimmel, "[I] lost half of my fanbase, maybe more," Kimmel said. He added ABC executives early on expressed concern that his attacks on Trump were alienating Republican voters. "I said 'Listen, I get it, you're right,'" Kimmel said, per Variety. But he said if they wanted him to stop making fun of Trump, they'd have to find another host. "I'm just not going to do it like that," he said.

Kimmel said executives caved because "they knew I was serious. I couldn't live with myself [if I didn't go after Trump]." Kimmel began taking shots at the future president at the start of his political campaign in 2015 and didn't let up even while sitting across from him in May 2016, per the Los Angeles Times. Referring to his proposed ban on Muslims entering America, Kimmel asked Trump, "Isn't it un-American and wrong to discriminate against people based on their religion?" Later, he criticized Trump's proposed cuts to the National Health Institute, explaining his own son was born with a heart condition. "I love this country too," Kimmel told hosts David Wild and Phil Rosenthal. "And when I see somebody coming in and ruining it I'm gonna say something about it."

Now, having recently signed a three-year contract extension, "I want to be on the air when Donald Trump goes to jail," Kimmel said, per Variety. "I still believe, even after living through the OJ [Simpson] trial, that justice triumphs in America and I know there are a billion different examples to the contrary but there just seemed to be too many different cases against him," he said. "I mean, how can you commit this many crimes and be this unethical and be this, just this terrible, and get away with it?" He's still taking shots at Trump on his show. During Thursday's monologue, the talk show host commented on the state of democracy. "Turns out it's not great thanks to the lies that have been spread by—I won't mention his name, but a sore loser former president," he said. (More Jimmy Kimmel stories.)

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