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Jimmy Kimmel reacted to revelations that President Trump’s administration tried to convince his Disney bosses to censor his late night talk show in 2018.
As reported by Rolling Stone, the then-president was so outraged by the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host’s ongoing jokes that he ordered his White House staff to phone “one of Disney’s top executives … to complain and demand action … The incident was so bizarre that news of it spread around the corridors of power in Washington.”
Kimmel described on Monday night’s show waking up to a flurry of messages about the news.
At first, Kimmel spent a few minutes making jokes about the revelations, such as: “Maybe this is why Donald and Melania sleep in separate bedrooms — she was laughing too hard at my monologue at night” and “I made fun of O.J. [Simpson] a thousand times; he hasn’t tried to kill me once” and “What a plot twist: The first time Donald Trump ever tries to stop someone from talking about him on television and it’s me.”
Then Kimmel got a bit serious and pointed out that conservatives rally to support comedians who come under fire for controversial jokes, then suggested he would never have received the same kind of support.
“Joking aside, this is a blatant abuse of power,” Kimmel said. “I wonder if Fox News, they’re always screaming about censoring comedians, will they defend me on this? I doubt it. We have a First Amendment right that Americans a hell of a lot braver than Donald Trump died for. [This is] especially hypocritical coming from someone who claims to be the bigliest anti-censorship defender of free speech.”
Kimmel then played many clips of Trump denouncing political censorship and praising free speech.
“It’s a shame [Rep.] Jim Jordan just had his big congressional hearing on the weaponization of the federal government and I couldn’t be there to testify about a president of the United States who abused his authority to silence someone who disagrees with him and tried to muzzle him,” Kimmel continued. “I’m so sorry, Jim, I would have been happy to help with that. As for Trump, if you want to come on the show to tell me to be quiet yourself, we still have that arcade claw machine that the My Pillow guy got in. You can climb inside and say whatever’s on your delicate little mind.”
Last year, Kimmel revealed that discussions between himself and ABC got pretty serious when it came to Trump jokes. The comedian says he even threatened to quit his show when executives became apprehensive about the jokes alienating his audience.
“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 told the Naked Lunch podcast. “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’ … 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.”
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