"Ten years ago, among Republicans, I was the most popular talk show host," the comedian and late night host said on a recent podcast.
While appearing on the latest episode of the Naked Lunch podcast, hosted by Phil Rosenthal and David Wild, the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host opened up about why he’s remained so outspoken about the former president on his late night show and what that has cost him. He addressed the topic after Rosenthal asked whether the show’s network, ABC, had ever asked, “Could you not just attack this side and lay off a little bit, because we’re going to lose those people?”
“There was at one time, maybe, I don’t know, right around the beginning of this whole Trump thing where … that was kind of hinted at, but I just said, ‘Listen, I get it. I don’t disagree. I mean, you’re right,'” Kimmel recalled. “I just said, if that’s what you want to do, I understand and I don’t begrudge you for it, but I’m not going to do that. So if you want somebody else to host the show, then that’s fine. That’s OK with me. I’m just not going to do it like that.”
Kimmel said the network responded with an “all right” and moved on. “They knew I was serious,” he added. “I just couldn’t live with myself.”
The comedian also acknowledged that while he has remained the host of ABC’s flagship late night show, he has lost fans over both his humorous and more serious statements about Trump.
“I have lost half of my fans — maybe more than that,” he told the co-hosts. “Ten years ago, among Republicans, I was the most popular talk show host, at least according to the research that they did.”
During the discussion, Kimmel also responded to praise from the co-hosts who said he and other late night hosts like Seth Meyers are “doing a public service.”
“I don’t think of it in that grandiose way, but I do think I love this country, too,” he said. “That flag doesn’t belong to them. This is ours, and when I see somebody coming in and ruining it, I’m going to say something about it. That’s it. It’s as simple as that.”
Kimmel went on to say that he’s “proud to be part of this group” of late night hosts, including The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert, especially as “you could do pretty well if you just stayed right down the middle.”
That prompted discussion of Trevor Noah’s departure from The Daily Show after seven years, which Kimmel said, to him, made more sense than continuing on, considering the demands of working in late night.
“It more surprises me that we do keep going because it’s hard — we’re not digging, obviously, there are certainly jobs harder than ours — but it just takes over your whole life. It’s something you have to think about all the time, nonstop,” he explained. “Stand-up comedy, other than the travel, it’s an easier life. There’s some wisdom to just enjoying your life.”