On Thursday, late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel admitted that he lost at least half of his fanbase after he made jokes about former President Donald Trump.
Kimmel appeared as a guest on an episode of the podcast “Naked Lunch,” hosted by Phil Rosenthal and David Wild, where he discussed his comedy and talk show host career.
Kimmel said he hopes he will still be hosting television when “Trump goes to jail.”
When Rosenthal asked if the network ever asked him to be more politically neutral with his comedy, Kimmel replied that at one point, ABC had “hinted” he should refrain from disproportionately making anti-Trump jokes on the air.
“I have lost half of my fans — maybe more than that,” Kimmel noted.
He added, “10 years ago among Republicans, I was the most popular talk show host.”
Kimmel told the network that he was unwilling to stop making fun of Trump, even if it meant losing his show.
“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,'” the comedian stated. “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 noted that he knew the decision would cost him fans and hurt the show’s ratings but that he is “proud” to be a part of a group of late-night television comedians who speak out against Trump.
He noted that “there’s a sacrifice you make when it comes to your audience, and you could do pretty well if you just stayed down the middle.”
ABC backed off on the request and allowed him to continue making jokes against Trump because the network knew his refusal was “serious,” Kimmel stated.
“I couldn’t live with myself [otherwise],” the comedian continued. “I love this country too. 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.”
Rosenthal told Kimmel that his jokes about Trump are a “public service” because “people feel comforted knowing they’re not alone.”
Kimmel’s show first aired in 2003, and the talk show host recently signed a three-year extension with ABC. However, the ratings of the show and other similar late-night shows have dropped substantially in the last several years.
Jimmy Kimmel Discusses Hosting Late Night TV In A World Beyond Politics | The Naked Lunch Podcast