After several days of trading barbs on TV and social media, Jimmy Kimmel attempted to defuse his feud with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Sunday.
It all began with a joke Kimmel made last Monday on his ABC show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” about first lady Melania Trump’s accent. That enraged Hannity, who took to Fox News on Wednesday to call Kimmel a “despicable disgrace” and some other choice words. Kimmel fired back during his own show before the two TV personalities took their quarrel to Twitter.
Hannity called Kimmel a racist, pervert and “Harvey Weinstein jr.” To the charge of racism, Kimmel responded, “Another thing we have in common!” and then went on to make a gay sexual innuendo in reference to Hannity’s apparent love for President Trump.
“While I admit I did have fun with our back and forth, after some thought, I realize that the level of vitriol from all sides (mine and me included) does nothing good for anyone and, in fact, is harmful to our country,” Kimmel wrote in a statement Sunday. “Even in 2018, the vile attacks against my wife and wishes for death on my infant son are shocking and I encourage those who made them to give their words and actions thought. I, too, will give my words more thought and recognize my role in inciting their hatefulness.”
Kimmel went on to apologize for the sex joke he made about Trump and Hannity — which had caused some controversy — writing he did not “intend to belittle or upset members of the gay community.”
The late-night host said he still thought his initial joke was an innocuous rib about the first lady. “I will take Sean Hannity at his word that he was genuinely offended by what I believed and still believe to be a harmless and silly aside referencing our First Lady’s accent,” Kimmel continued. “Mrs. Trump almost certainly has enough to worry about without being used as a prop to increase TV ratings.”
All of the major late-night show hosts use the Trump World as their favored comedic fodder. Kimmel, in particular, found himself a target of conservative personalities ever since he delivered emotional and serious monologues during the health-care debate last year.
Last week, Kimmel had played a clip of the first lady reading a book to children during the White House Easter Egg Roll, laughed and then tried to mimic her accent. “About dis and dat,” he said, laughing. Then he turned to his heavily accented, Mexican American sidekick and said, “Guillermo, you know what this means? You could be first lady of the United States.”
“Liberal Jimmy Kimmel, making fun of the first lady of the United States and her involvement in the White House Easter Egg Roll,” Hannity said about the joke. “Even her accent… Now, I’m going to tell you something: What a disgrace. Hey, Mr. Kimmel, that’s her fifth language. How many do you speak?”
Then Hannity turned his attention to Kimmel’s old program, “The Man Show,” calling him a “pervert pig” and tagging Disney, which owns ABC. Fox News published a piece about a petition calling for a Kimmel boycott that exceeded 50,000 signatures.
After being called a “despicable disgrace,” Kimmel accused Hannity of hypocrisy: “This is the guy who defended the multiple-y alleged pedophile Roy Moore,” referring to the Republican candidate for Senate from Alabama. And as far as what he viewed as being disrespectful toward the first lady, Kimmel said: “Cheating on her with a porn star after she has a baby. Why don’t you rant a little about that, Sean Hannity?”
On Sunday, Kimmel slightly changed his tune.
“I am hopeful that Sean Hannity will learn from this too,” he said, “and continue his newly-found advocacy for women, immigrants and First Ladies and that he will triumph in his heroic battle against sexual harassment and perversion.”
As for Hannity’s response, the Fox News host tweeted that he had just received an alert about the Kimmel tweet while at “a tournament with my daughter. I’ll have a full and comprehensive response tomorrow on Hannity. 9 EST FOX.”