RUSH: Here is David in Dallas, as we stick with the phones. How you doing, David?
CALLER: I’m doing good. Dittos, Rush.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: I’d like to know how is it possible for someone like Jimmy Kimmel, freaking Jimmy Kimmel, go from girls on trampolines to the moral voice on the left. And going from making jokes about Oprah Winfrey to having her pull his tampon strings. How is that possible, 15 years, how can he go from that?
RUSH: What about her tampon, what was that?
CALLER: He used to make jokes about her. He did parodies —
RUSH: Are you telling me that Jimmy Kimmel used to make fun of Oprah’s menstrual cycle?
CALLER: Yes, he did. He would make fun of Oprah all the time on his TV show.
RUSH: Like for that and what other — how else?
CALLER: Well, he would do The Oprahification of America, how men were becoming more feminine. He would make jokes.
RUSH: Let me just — I’m gonna get in deep doo-doo here. You have to understand something about these late-night comedians. They have a staff of writers that may number from 10 to 20. So whatever Kimmel is uttering every night when it comes to jokes, he may not even have written it. I mean, you just don’t know. Now, it ends up in his name, but there are — like this show doesn’t have any writers. Never have had. But Johnny Carson had writers. They all do. Letterman had 25 of ’em. They work all day putting together a five- to eight-minute monologue. But, anyway, that’s just a side point. You want to know how Kimmel can go from laughing at and making fun of Oprah’s menstrual cycle and her weight and everything else to all of a sudden being an advocate for Oprah running for president, right?
CALLER: Exactly. How is that possible?
RUSH: Well, the First Amendment is how it’s possible. What you’re really asking is, why do people grant him any credibility when he makes massive shifts like this?
CALLER: Exactly. Why is he even considered as an authority? That’s beyond my understanding.
RUSH: He’s actually not, but the people who agree with what he is saying grant him that status because they want to hear it. And they don’t really care who says it. The fact that Kimmel is saying it means they’re gonna bond with him and support him. But to people that don’t agree with Kimmel, he’s not an authority to anybody. He’s a hack. Jimmy Kimmel has demonstrated by virtue of his career that when it comes to political thinking, he doesn’t really have any original thought.
CALLER: Exactly. Yeah.
RUSH: So his bleating on health care and now Trump, believe me, it has been established that he has a lot of assistance from the staff of Senator Schumer. They send him talking points and other political things to say about Trump and about health care. And he just repeats it.
CALLER: Is it just money? He just wants money?
RUSH: What do you mean, is it just money? He just wants money? No.
CALLER: Does he just want to get paid?
RUSH: Okay. You’re asking so many different things here. I’m not criticizing, but you’re asking a lot of different questions. You’re asking about how could he do this with credibility. You’re asking why is he doing it, why did he go from trying to be a comedian telling jokes to trying to be taken seriously as a political commentator. I mean, every one of your questions has a different answer.
CALLER: I guess my real question is, I understood Jimmy Kimmel to be a Republican, a man’s man, 15 years ago. How can he go from a man’s man —
RUSH: Because The Man Show?
CALLER: Yeah, The Man Show.
RUSH: Because of The Man Show you thought was a Republican?
CALLER: Because of The Man Show.
RUSH: He was on with Adam Carolla, who is a conservative.
CALLER: Right. I had no clue that he was a liberal whatsoever.
RUSH: Well, it happened. And, you know, there’s this thing called — and I’m not being facetious — there is this very well tested theorem. It’s called O’Sullivan’s Law. And it is this. Any person or group which is not actively conservative every day will become liberal. Meaning, liberalism is the natural default position for unthinking people, more emotional people, it’s the default.
Conservatism, on the other hand, I don’t want to be misunderstood here, but it’s a mental, it’s an intellectual pursuit. You may live your life as a conservative, and you may vote as a conservative, but you may not be able to explain why. Liberals don’t have to explain why. All they have to do is say they care or notice suffering or discrimination, victims or what have you, and they’re automatically feted with great compliments for courage and sensitivity. But nothing they ever propose fixes anything. All they do is further mess things up.
So Kimmel going from The Man Show to where he is now, it could be as seductive as one thing, okay. So his kid ends up with a medical condition, goes to the hospital, discovers some things there ask decides to come out and tell the story. And the Schumer office heard it and got in touch with him, and now Kimmel can be taken seriously for once instead of just being a jokester. And believe me, actors and comedians crave to be taken seriously, most of them. So there’s that answer for you.
Money. Kimmel’s gonna get paid no matter what he does, even if the ratings tank. Ratings are not a factor in late-night TV anymore. What matters to the success of late-night TV is how much of what you do ends up on YouTube the next day. And believe me, check your newspaper or check your news source every day and check and see how many things Colbert does that are on YouTube the next day, how many things Kimmel does that are on YouTube the next day, how many things Seth Meyers does or Jimmy Fallon, how much of what they do is recycled the next day on social media, and that’s how you determine their success. Ratings are not a big deal anymore.
And every broadcast and broadcaster, you know, audiences are now niche more than ever. When it was just Johnny Carson doing late-night and before CBS or ABC even entered the fray, Carson owned it. He had ever late-night comedy viewer in the country watching. Ratings were incomparable. Well, then Joan Rivers decided she wanted to do her own show after hosting for Carson, and Fox gives her a late-night show. Then Letterman doesn’t get Carson’s gig and goes to CBS and they start one. The audience began to be fragment.
Letterman was never number one. Letterman was always number three. But you’ll never know that looking at social media or entertainment media. To them, Letterman was king, but his ratings never indicated it. And I can tell you, I can give you a list of names throughout media who are portrayed and presented as number one and they’re not even close. But it’s buzz and PR that makes people think they’re hot and popular, when they’re really not. (interruption) I told you I’m not gonna mention any names. There’s no winning mentioning any names here.
But the point is, this is why I, as a career objective, I moved to New York in 1988, and I wanted to be the legitimately most listened to guy on the radio, established by industry standards and norms. I wanted to be acknowledged by the industry as the legitimate most listened to. Not the most talked about, even though that’s happened, and not the most buzzed about or any of that. I wanted to have the largest audience. That, to me, was the simple single definition of winning.
Late-night guys, that’s not even an objective anymore. Doing what you’d have to do to keep advertisers happy, keep the money rolling in, but the bosses want buzz, because that can service the rest of the broadcast day. And even though you get great ratings, that doesn’t necessarily get people talking about your show all day long on social media.
So how many skits can you do or how many insults of Trump can you do that will be packaged for YouTube the next day? And don’t laugh. That is now a significant factor in how bosses, executives determine whether or not they have a good show, a hot show. Not so much ratings. Les Moonves at CBS practically admitted it after hiring Colbert. He said, “Ratings, not a big deal anymore.” They went after buzz. And they thought Colbert would deliver the most buzz coming from Comedy Central and bashing Bush and so forth, and they wanted to capitalize on it.
But the point is, audiences are so niche now, you don’t need a big audience to have some modicum degree of success. Look, there are 200 cable stations now, and they all have audiences. In 1988, nowhere near that. Particularly when you’re talking about broadcast, there were three. CNN was the cable news network, and that was it. You had TBS, WGN. But you didn’t have 200. Now you’ve got — I mean, there’s a TV station for Chinese opera, a network for Chinese opera. I mean, whatever you want, it’s on there if you want to find it.
And it’s bifurcating or fragmenting the audience so that most audiences are niche, whereas in the old days, everybody was shooting for the largest audience, the biggest. And then the biggest in the demographic, which has always been 25-54.
So Kimmel, let me circle back here, Kimmel can succeed with a very tiny audience if other criteria are met. And how he can go from a jokester that you think is conservative to what he is now, it’s up to him. If he wants to try it, his bosses will back him up and if he can pull it off, fine and dandy. If he loses some viewers along the way, hopefully he picks up others is the way they think about it.
There’s so many ways to answer your question. But you’re looking for an answer that would say Kimmel has delegitimized himself or disqualified himself because he’s no longer true to what he was when he started. That’s not the case anymore. I mean, Kimmel didn’t start out as a trusted authority. He is evolving into what he hopes will be one. What’s gonna be tough is to drop it someday and go back to just being a jokester. You very well seldom find these two things combined.
I like to illustrate it this way. In the old days when Ted Koppel was hosting Nightline, you tune into Nightline, Koppel’s doing a five- to seven-minute joke routine, you’re gonna say, “What is this? I didn’t tune in for that.” You’re gonna tune it out. Same token, tune in to Letterman, and he’s doing a serious — or Carson or Jay Leno — if they’re doing a serious, serious news monologue with guests in it, people are gonna say, “That’s not why I’m watching this show,” you turn it off. It’s tough to combine irreverent, satirical, parodic comedy with serious discussion of issues and to be credible when you’re doing both.
This program started that way, and it remains that way. And it’s very difficult to pull off. And you can only do it if you have a very unbreakable bond of trust with your audience. But Kimmel’s audience didn’t start with this political stuff, so he’s evolving into it. So he’s probably losing some people and hoping they’re picking up new ones. And, believe me, there’s plenty of dingbats that watch The View that will be happy to leave it on the same station and go to bed with Kimmel sounding like Maude Behar. Plenty of them out there.
RUSH: Okay. We’re back. Snerdley just told me something I didn’t know, and that’s very hard to do. So he gets a point for knowing something I didn’t know. But yet when you hear what it is, you might understand why I didn’t know it. He told me about, what is it, Amy? Amy Schumer, you know, she’s related to Chuck Schumer somehow.
Anyway, Amy Schumer is a comedienne. Snerdley told me that during her wedding vows, repeating the vows, that she promised her soon-to-be husband that the Lewinskys would continue even after they were married. Now, of course, she’s making a joke about the fact that married people stop having sex because that’s just what happens. She was promising the Lewinskys would continue.
And Snerdley was telling me he was outraged. How could you sully, how could you dishonor your wedding vows with that? And I said, “Why is anybody surprised? You remember what Nina Burleigh did?” You remember Nina Burleigh, who at the time was writing for TIME magazine, who offered Bill Clinton lifetime Lewinskys just for keeping abortion legal. We’re talk about left-wing women here. None of what they do shocks or surprises me anymore.
By the way, Jimmy Kimmel’s head writer is his wife. I forgot to mention that. And that is a salient reason why their hospital experience with their son was converted into a monologue for his show, and that began the transformation of Jimmy Kimmel comedian to Jimmy Kimmel Chuck Schumer wannabe, which is where he is now.