When I spoke to Jimmy Kimmel this week, the first-rate host of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! said that, despite the comedic nature of his show, he wasn’t going to pull any punches when it came to his interview with President Obama.
“I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on foreign policy, or health care, or any of those things. But we will definitely get into stuff that is a little more serious,” Kimmel said.
And that he did.
On Thursday, the late-night host grilled the commander-in-chief on a variety of subjects, ranging from his daughters’ use of social media (“Michelle and I try to emphasize to them that we don’t want them on TMZ,” Obama said.) and Hillary Clinton’s new email address (“I don’t think she’d want you to have it, quite frankly!”) to the recent events in Ferguson, including a Justice Department report revealing gross misconduct within the city council and police department, a bevy of racist internal emails being circulated among cops, the police chief’s resignation, and two officers who recently were shot.
“What had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable and worthy of protest, but there was no excuse for criminal acts,” Obama said of the two officers that were shot. “What we have to make sure is the folks that disregard and disrespect the other side, the people that resort to violence, that they’re marginalized. They’re not the majority. In the same way that you can’t generalize about police officers who do an extraordinarily tough job, overwhelmingly they do it professionally, you can’t generalize about protesters who, it turns out, had some very legitimate grievances. The Justice Department report showed African Americans were being stopped disproportionately mainly so that the city could raise money, even though these were unjust.”
Kimmel also took the time to address Obama’s historically strained relationship with the musician/entrepreneur Kanye West. The president once famously called West “a jackass,” but has since backpedaled off that statement. And in a recent talk with Oxford University students, West said, “I understand that I’m a servant. And with my voice, with my ability to build relationships with amazing people, speak to amazing people... Call Elon Musk out of the blue or call Obama out of the blue… he calls the home phone, by the way.”
Kimmel, as is his wont, asked Obama if there was any truth to this whatsoever. And it turns out… there isn’t.“I’ve met Kanye twice,” Obama said. “The first time was when I was a senator and he was with his mom. He’d just gotten big. He’s from Chicago, so they wanted to meet, and he was very soft-spoken and very gracious. He was a young guy, and hadn’t quite come into his own. And about six months ago, he came to an event and, look, I love his music and he’s incredibly creative. I don’t think I’ve got his home number.”The president added, “I do love his music though. He’s terrific.”