Jimmy Kimmel fired back after President Trump maligned late-night comedy shows as “one-sided,” saying that the president was surrounded by too many scandals and mishaps to ignore.
“Here’s this thing, and maybe I can explain this because I hear this a lot: I don’t want to talk about Donald Trump every night. None of us do, none of us who host these shows do,” said Kimmel, the host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on ABC. “But he gives us no choice. If he sat in the White House all day quietly working on things, I would almost never mention him because it’s not interesting.”
Kimmel rattled off a list of things that had happened just Wednesday morning: Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was sentenced to prison for the second time. Trump called himself “the President with the most successful first two years in history” on Twitter, and he attacked the “Fake News” for a conspiracy theory about first lady Melania Trump.
“Not supposed to mention that?” Kimmel said incredulously. “Obama wore mom jeans one time. We made jokes about it for six straight years. How about this: You stop being terrible, we’ll stop pointing it out.”
Trump had tweeted after former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno lamented in a television interview the loss of a simpler political era when it was easier to find a middle ground and strike a tone of civility.
“Actually, the one-sided hatred on these shows is incredible and for me, unwatchable,” Trump wrote, referring to Leno. “But remember, WE are number one — President!”
The remark follows other verbal attacks Trump has made on the world of show business. In February, he drew a strong rebuke from the ACLU after saying that the comedy on shows such as “Saturday Night Live” “should be looked into.”
“This is the real Collusion!” Trump said then.
Kimmel read the president’s statement on his show, punctuating his delivery with a pointed aside: “What a snowflake,” he said about Trump — using a word popularized by conservatives to describe what some see as an excessively sensitive culture.
Leno, who hosted his last show in 2014, had appeared Tuesday on the “Today” show on his old network. He said it was better, as a host, to not have politics that people could easily pin down.
“People couldn’t figure out,” Leno said. “‘Well, you and your Republican friends’ or ‘Well, Mr. Leno, you and your Democratic buddies.’ And I would get hate mail from both sides equally.”
Leno said it’s more difficult for hosts to deliver jokes about Trump.
“People say, ‘Oh, it must be easy to do jokes with Trump,’ ” he said. “No, it’s actually harder, because the punchline of the joke used to be, ‘That’s like the president with a porn star.’ Well, now the president is with a porn star. Where do you go with that? How do you get more outrageous than that?”
“Fox and Friends” programmed a segment on the continuing discussion about late-night television Thursday morning. “LATE NIGHT’S LEFT TURN,” the title card read. The show ran a clip of former “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson telling Barbara Walters in 1984 that comedians shouldn’t take themselves too seriously and comment on social issues.
Trump was apparently watching.
"The three very weak and untalented late night ‘hosts’ are ‘fighting over table scraps,’ Trump tweeted at 8:25 a.m., quoting a guest from Fox’s show.