Jimmy Kimmel's hint of regret
Jimmy Kimmel's angry political rants have painted him into a corner. He understands that he has lost a chunk of his audience, but now he has a social media claque eager for more that would turn on him for any failure to live up to their expectations.
Kimmel also is starting to realize that this political commentary stuff is harder than just making middlebrow jokes. People take him seriously, and suddenly there are new expectations the former co-host of The Man Show – that seemed to be aimed at adolescent male beer-drinkers – realizes he has no chance of fulfilling. "I'm nobody's moral arbiter," he told Tracy Smith on CBS Sunday Morning, which did a segment on him.
David Ruiz of the Free Beacon provides the video and a summary of the contents. It is less than two minutes long.
What most struck me was Kimmel revealing that he realizes there has been a downside:
Kimmel told CBS he had seen a study or poll three years ago saying he was equally liked by Democrats and Republicans, but he'd now seen his numbers with Republicans down "30 percent."
"As a talk show host, that's not ideal," Kimmel said. "But I would do it again in a heartbeat."
"So you don't mind if Republicans turn off your show?" CBS reporter Tracy Smith asked.
"I don't say I don't mind," Kimmel said. "I want everyone with a television to watch the show, but if they're so turned off by my opinion on health care and gun violence, then … I probably wouldn't want to have a conversation with them anyway."
"Good riddance?" Smith asked.
"Well, not good riddance, but riddance," Kimmel said, laughing.
He wouldn't want to have a conversation with people who disagree with him. While this is a common attitude, for a person who has taken the role of public commentator, it is akin to declaration of tribal identity or religious belief, not subject to further questioning.
And he realizes this is 15% of his audience, roughly, that he is losing.
He'd do it again in a heartbeat because he was venting anger, and because other angry people liked hearing it from him. He's probably gained new viewers, but whether or not they outweigh the viewers he's lost is unknown to me. That is a short-run issue of importance.
Kimmel has created longer-term issues. Up until the moment he jumped into politics, absorbing and reflecting back the Trump-hatred that permeates the culture in Hollywood, Kimmel's primary appeal was his irony and his everyman persona. He was a wisea-- you might run into at a party. A little bit edgy, but accessible to 90% of the I.Q. distribution.
Now he is an angry comic and somebody who tells us what ought to happen in politics.
Now he has to decide whether to go farther in the direction of politics or try to retreat. It is not a pleasant dilemma.