Jimmy Kimmel is talented. He’s likable. He’s authentic. He’s flourished in late night TV since coming on board at ABC nearly 15 years ago.
But after his tirades this week taking potshots at people from afar in monologues that resemble more anger than anything resembling comedy — add one more word to the résumé:
In case you haven’t heard, Kimmel doesn’t like the newest Republican proposal to repeal and replace ObamaCare. His input comes after his son, Billy, needed heart surgery soon after birth due to a heart defect. Billy will need two more. But the comedian says he’s studied the new GOP plan and says it won’t cover his son’s future surgeries and is lashing out.
Kimmel is welcome to his opinion and his emotion on this one is understandable. (I have two young children and couldn’t imagine going through something like Jimmy and his wife did.) And as late-night television continues to morph into a decidedly left-leaning cabal of partisan vitriol and snark, the ABC host shared his perspective on the Graham-Cassidy bill to his audience by attacking the Republican bill’s co-author.
Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyTop Louisiana health official rips Cassidy over ObamaCare repeal bill Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Finance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-La.) insists the bill would cover Kimmel’s son for any heart surgeries needed in the future. Kimmel doesn’t buy it. But, instead of respectfully debating what truly is in the bill and what’s not, the late-night host does what so many on college campuses do when “debating” an issue: They demonize their opponent by questioning moral virtue. They get personal, as Kimmel did in his case by calling Cassidy a guy “who lied right to my face.”
“Oh I get it, I don’t understand it because I’m a talk show host,” Kimmel said to Cassidy from afar Wednesday night. “Then help me out. Which part don’t I understand? The part where you cut $243 billion dollars from federal health care assistance? Am I not understanding the part where states would let insurance companies price you out of coverage for having pre-existing conditions?”
“Could it be, Sen. Cassidy, that the problem is that I do understand and you got caught with your G-O-Penis out. Is that possible?” he asked.
To review, Jimmy Kimmel is as much a health care expert as much as every cable news pundit and host are mental health experts, which many in the business suddenly became after earning their Wikipedia degrees following the election of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE.
In the end, here’s the net-net: Kimmel speaks, his word is presented as gospel by a cheering media regardless of qualifications or background, and the whole debate is suddenly dictated by a comedian. That’s just how it works in 2017.
Perhaps ABC could move his program up the road from Los Angeles to Berkeley, where so-called debate is treated the same way: Shout the other guy down while calling him evil.
Want proof? A poll of 1,500 undergraduate students conducted by the Brookings Institute asked the following question:
“A public university invites a very controversial speaker to an on-campus event. The speaker is known for making offensive and hurtful statements. A student group opposed to the speaker disrupts the speech by loudly and repeatedly shouting so that the audience cannot hear the speaker. Do you agree or disagree that the student group’s actions are acceptable?”
Answer: Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of those identifying as Democrats believe that it is perfectly OK to shout down any speaker they disagree with instead of that antiquated thing called listening. Meanwhile, 39 percent of Republicans felt the same way.
So overall, what’s the number of those who have no interest in debate and instead prefer simply shouting down the opposition? A majority, or 51 percent, don’t believe in the First Amendment.
There are even some protesters who resort to violence in these situations, something else Kimmel seems to be embracing as many in the media cheer him on after the host threatened physical violence against Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on Wednesday night, saying he would “pound him” the next time he sees him in person. On cue, his audience predictably roared at the prospect while most media coverage of Kimmel’s monologue today is golf-clapping at the prospect.
Brookings also asked that question:
“A student group opposed to the speaker uses violence to prevent the speaker from speaking. Do you agree or disagree that the student group’s actions are acceptable?”
Answer: Somehow 19 percent of those polled believe hurting someone they disagree with is a fine way to resolve the debate.
So here’s an idea, Jimmy: Instead of calling people liars from afar and attacking everybody under the sun you disagree with on a comedy program disguised as an unhinged cable news segment, why not invite them — and especially Cassidy — back on your show (he appeared in May) to actually debate the new bill and talk it through like adults?
Perhaps it could be educational. Perhaps there’s some information about the new GOP plan that may not have been explained clearly or even mentioned in the place you’re getting your information from.
Perhaps — if disagreement still exists — some compromise can be forged.
And yes, perhaps an example can be set on national television how to engage with those you disagree with these days.
“Jimmy doesn’t understand, and not because he’s a talk show host, because we’ve never spoken,” Cassidy said on “Fox & Friends” Thursday morning. “He’s only heard from those on the left, who are doing their best to preserve ObamaCare. He’s not heard from me — we’ve not spoken — and I would love to talk to him about this.”
Kimmel should take the offer. Otherwise, Jimmy, you’re just another coward with no interest in hearing the other side.