After he spoke out so forcefully on both health care and gun control over the past month, many late-night viewers might have expected Jimmy Kimmel do the same about the sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. When he didn’t, Kimmel’s right-wing critics—including Donald Trump Jr.—were quick to accuse him of liberal bias. Was he protecting the Democratic donor and his fellow “Hollywood elite” in a way he would never do for Donald Trump?
Kimmel pushed back hard on those assertions on Friday during an interview with Good Morning America’s Amy Robach to promote his upcoming week of Brooklyn tapings, during which he also welcomed the idea of having President Trump on his show. “Maybe this is crazy, but I feel like I could turn him around on a couple of things,” he said.
Starting with the president’s son, the late-night host said, “Well, he’s an idiot. This is an imbecile whose job seems to be tweeting, as far as I can tell.”
“First of all, the Harvey Weinstein thing, people like this false equivalence of that’s somehow equivalent to what happened in Las Vegas,” Kimmel added, arguing that the alleged assault of dozens of women does not deserve the same reaction as the killing of nearly 60 people. He said that Weinstein is “not a friend of mine,” adding, “I’m not in the movie business.” As a once and future Oscar host who is friends with many of the movie stars in Weinstein’s orbit, that claim is a hard one to buy.
“And I’ll add that that story came out like I think moments before we went to tape on Thursday and we didn’t have a show on Friday,” Kimmel continued.
While The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah managed to work a throwaway joke about Weinstein into his Thursday night show last week, Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, and James Corden all did not cover it until Monday. John Oliver was the first host to fully address it Sunday night.
But even when Kimmel did finally talk about Weinstein on Monday, he used the story more as a tool to go after Trump Jr. than anything else. “Next time you’re defending your father and you think it’s a good idea to draw a comparison between him and a freshly accused sexual predator, don’t. It doesn’t help,” Kimmel told him, before delivering one joke about Weinstein just to prove that he could.
On GMA, Kimmel went on to accuse “gun nuts” of “trying take any comedy bit I did out of context and use it as some kind of proof” that he is not an ally for women, including some pretty gross moments from The Man Show.
“They’re saying that I’m calling myself the moral conscience of America, which I most certainly never did and most certainly never would,” he declared.
Kimmel is probably telling the truth when he says he never set out to become the “moral conscience of America,” and we should not necessarily expect a late-night host to embody that role. On the two recent occasions that he did decide to speak out, it was because of a personal connection to those issues. His baby son’s open-heart surgery turned him into a health care advocate and his own childhood connection to Las Vegas made him feel for that city.
His decision not to spend a similar amount of time on Weinstein seems to confirm that the issue of sexual misconduct does not hold a similar place in his heart. Fortunately, other hosts—particularly Samantha Bee and Seth Meyers—have picked up the slack.