Jimmy Kimmel has become a passionate voice speaking out every night against the current administration, willing to take on everyone from Sean Hannity to Donald Trump himself, while letting Kanye West off the hook.
In a wide-ranging new interview, the late-night host explains why, and why he won't even have Omarosa Manigault-Newman on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
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Kimmel sat down with The Daily Beast to discuss the slow evolution of his show from a silly live show with c-list celebrities, to becoming one of the leading voices of the opposition. It turns out, he's pretty comfortable in the middle of a fight, as he often finds himself now with various of Trump's supporters.
"I'm a fighter in general," Kimmel explained. "I did morning radio for years and I grew up in an Italian family, so it's where I'm most comfortable. When other people start something, it excites me. My wife jokes with me, 'I've never seen you more happy than when you get into one of these things.' The adrenaline courses through my veins."
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Getting Over Sean Hannity
That adrenaline was definitely flowing when he found himself in the crosshairs of Fox News' Sean Hannity over an admittedly bad impression he did of First Lady Melania Trump's accent. Somehow this escalated into Hannity taking Kimmel to task for his off-color Comedy Central series from decades ago, "The Man Show," and even comparing him to disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
This is ABC's @jimmykimmel aka Harvey Weinstein Jr. Asking 18 year old girls to grab his crotch and "put their mouth on it". Jimmy that's you being a pervert asshole. How would you feel if that was your daughter? I bet @Disney is so proud. https://t.co/o7ydG72Pzc@seanhannity
"Yeah, well, I mean he's a lunatic. He'll say anything," Kimmel said. "That he would compare me to Harvey Weinstein, it's just ridiculous. And he knows it's ridiculous, but I realized somewhere along the line I wasn't going to win anybody over in that argument. His supporters are on his side, mine are on my side and that's kind of that."
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Kanye, Imma Let You Not Finish
Kimmel usually pulls no punches in his interviews, and he did so again when he asked Kanye West about his support of the president. "You so famously and so powerfully, said, 'George Bush doesn't care about black people.' It makes me wonder what makes you think that Donald Trump does, or any people at all?" Kimmel asked.
But West didn't respond at all, and after a few moments Kimmel threw it to commercial break. When they came back, the interview moved on to another topic as if that pregnant pause had never happened. West later tweeted that the question was deserving of a thoughtful response, with his critics wondering when that might come. As for Kimmel, many were critical that he seemingly let Kanye off the hook like that.
"I went to commercial because the segment was supposed to be eight minutes long and we were already at 10 minutes," Kimmel said, going into the nitty-gritty of the time constraints of network television. But it's not so much about cutting to commercial as it is what happened after they came back ... which was nothing.
"It wasn't necessarily a conscious decision," Kimmel said of not following up after the break. "I felt that his silence answered the question in some ways. And I also know that if Kanye wanted to continue on a subject then he is not shy about continuing on that subject.
"I also had a lot of areas I wanted to cover. I didn't want to spend the whole interview on one thing," Kimmel said, adding, "I think it's a question that I hope he will answer eventually"
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That's a No-marosa
With his penchant for fights and tackling challenging subjects, Kimmel admitted that his people have asked him if he'd like to have Omarosa on the show. "I said no," he said. "Because I think she's just all over the place," adding that "there's clearly something wrong with her."
He went on to say, "I don't think I'd be able to get anything out of her that anyone else isn't able to get out of her."
Kimmel did speak with former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, even though he was pretty sure Spicer wasn't totally telling the truth. "Are any of us 100 percent honest?" Kimmel asked. "I don't think so."
But part of the reason he has no interest in speaking to Omarosa at a time when she is agreeing to be interviewed by anyone with a basement podcast has to do with how she handled herself when she was booked on his show way back in 2004. It turns out Kimmel was planning a fake "lie detector" prank on his Uncle Frank and Omarosa misunderstood what was going on.
"She saw the setup for the lie detector test and decided that we were going to spring it on her, which, if you know anything about taking a polygraph test, that's not how it works," Kimmel said. "It takes a long time. There's no ding and no buzz. It's a chart that they analyze afterwards. So that was preposterous just to start with.
"But she stormed out of there and the show was live so we had no guest." She left him hanging 14 years ago, so now he's going to leave her hanging with one less place to plug her book.