That much was evident this week when Trump appeared to find time between handling the health crisis and attacking his political adversaries to go after another group of people who have often been the target of his ire: late-night hosts.
During an Oval Office sit-down with the New York Post on Monday, Trump slammed Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert for being “nasty” and having “no talent.” He then continued his onslaught on Tuesday, firing off a tweet attacking Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel over their ratings.
Kimmel and Colbert, two of Trump’s most vocal critics, wasted no time hitting back at the president.
“Happy Cinco de Mayo Mr. President! Thanks for the shout-out — now get back to work royally” messing “everything up,” Kimmel tweeted Tuesday afternoon, using an expletive.
“It’s nice to know that Trump is staying laser-focused on the ball during a crisis,” Colbert quipped on his CBS show later that night.
With the coronavirus continuing to spread in the United States, sickening at least 1.1 million people and causing more than 70,500 deaths, late-night comics have emerged as some of the loudest voices attacking Trump and his administration’s response.
On Monday, when the New York Post’s interview turned to the subject of the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, an annual gathering often hosted by a comedian, Trump didn’t hesitate to air his grievances against the outspoken hosts.
First the president laid into Meyers, calling the NBC host “‘marble mouth,’ because he can’t speak properly.” Meyers, who hosted the dinner in 2011, infamously cracked numerous jokes about Trump at the event.
“Seth Meyers, he was nasty,” Trump said. “The guy’s got no talent whatsoever. Zero. How do these guys get jobs? I don’t get it.”
Trump went on to name-drop Colbert, calling him talentless, adding, “There’s nothing funny about him, nothing funny.”
“You look at some of these people and you say, ‘How do they get a job?’” Trump said. “They are just so average.”
While Meyers has yet to respond, Trump’s remarks, which were published by the newspaper Tuesday, provided fodder for Colbert.
After reading an excerpt from the interview out loud, Colbert said Trump’s rhetoric reminded him of another wartime president: Franklin D. Roosevelt. The host then played an edited video of the former U.S. leader speaking to the nation after Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor.
“December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy because Groucho Marx is a no-talent hack,” a voice-over said. “I’m a Three Stooges man.”
Colbert also sought to answer Trump’s question about how he and Meyers have managed to stay employed.
“I can’t speak for Seth. He’s very talented,” Colbert said. “But I am an idiot. The only reason I have this job is because I married the daughter of Donald CBS and for some reason, he keeps putting me in charge of everything.”
Meanwhile, Kimmel zeroed in on Trump’s Tuesday tweet that mocked late-night hosts for their shows’ ratings.
“Wow! Congratulations to Greg Gutfeld, a one time Trump Hater who has come all the way home,” Trump tweeted, referencing the Fox News host. The tweet came while Trump was en route to Phoenix, where he toured a mask-making facility on one of his first trips outside Washington since late March.
“His Ratings easily beat no talent Stephen Colbert, nice guy Jimmy Fallon, and wacko ‘last placer’ Jimmy Kimmel,” Trump wrote of Gutfeld, who hosts an eponymous weekly late-night show that airs on Saturdays.
Wow! Congratulations to Greg Gutfeld, a one time Trump Hater who has come all the way home. His Ratings easily beat no talent Stephen Colbert, nice guy Jimmy Fallon, and wacko “last placer” Jimmy Kimmel. Greg built his show from scratch, and did a great job in doing so. @FoxNews— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2020
In April, “The Greg Gutfeld Show” had an average of 2.86 million viewers, a record high for the program, the Hill reported, citing data from Nielsen Media Research. In comparison, Colbert’s show averaged 2.78 million viewers last month, according to the Hill. NBC’s “Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” came in at 2.09 million viewers, followed by “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” at 2 million.
But as Vanity Fair reported on Tuesday, Gutfeld’s Saturday show doesn’t directly compete with the other late-night hosts mentioned by Trump whose programs run on weeknights.
That didn’t stop Kimmel from clapping back at Trump on Twitter and addressing the barb again during his monologue.
“Wacko last?” Kimmel repeated indignantly Tuesday night after reading Trump’s tweet on-air. “I hope he wasn’t talking about me.”
Kimmel suggested that the tweet may have been “another typo situation.”
“I think what he meant to tweet was, ‘I am completely devastated by the loss of life caused by this insidious virus,'" the host said. "'My thoughts are with the families of those who have passed. I pledge to spend every waking moment working to make sure our medical workers have the support they need and every American has access to tests. P.S. Congrats to Greg Gutfeld.’”
“That’s better, right?” Kimmel asked.