Lauer Cheers Kimmel’s Liberal Activism: ‘A Lot of People Applauded You’

In a softball interview with comedian turned liberal activist Jimmy Kimmel for Thursday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer touted how the ABC late-night host “has found himself in the headlines for his unexpected role in the health care debate.”

Noting that “it’s not just the laughs that Jimmy Kimmel has been bringing lately,” Lauer reminded viewers: “In May, he delivered an emotional monologue about his youngest son Billy’s health.” Turning to Kimmel, the morning show anchor wondered: “When you walked out on the set that night, Jimmy, did you walk out intending to make headlines?”

 

 

Despite recently using his show to push one left-wing agenda item after another, Kimmel claimed: “Oh, no. No, I didn't....I had no idea it would become a matter of national debate.”

Lauer observed: “My take on it is this, and I hope you take this the right way, I was surprised to hear the reaction because it seemed to me as if people were saying, ‘Oh, my God, Jimmy Kimmel said something significant.’” Kimmel replied: “I think that you get painted as a caricature in a way, and not undeservedly so, and people have preconceived notions.”

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After touting how “A lot of people applauded you for kind of wading into that debate,” Lauer worried: “...a lot of people didn’t....give me a sense of some of the things you read online that really impacted you negatively.”

Kimmel responded:

I understand people disagreeing with me. I don’t understand being angry when it comes to health care, I really don’t understand that. Because I think it’s obvious what my intent is and I don’t understand a lot of the backlash. What I especially don’t understand are the monstrous things people will write about, you know, my child and my wife.

While Lauer was concerned about Kimmel facing harsh criticism online, he didn’t ask about the comedian’s own nasty rhetoric:

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Kimmel: GOP Are Villains Looking to Take Your Kid’s Health Care

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The Today show was just the latest network morning show to sit down for a gushing interview with Kimmel. On Friday, ABC’s Good Morning America applauded Kimmel’s activism. Two days later, CBS Sunday Morning devoted a glowing profile to the late-night host.

The biased interview on Thursday’s Today was brought to viewers by Lincoln and Toyota.

Here is a transcript of the October 19 exchange:

8:20 AM ET

MATT LAUER: Let us turn now to our interview with Jimmy Kimmel. The late-night host has found himself in the headlines for his unexpected role in the health care debate. We caught up with Jimmy at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where he’s doing his show this week, to talk about that subject and more.

(...)

LAUER: These days, his audience is much bigger, but it’s not just the laughs that Jimmy Kimmel has been bringing lately.

JIMMY KIMMEL: Billy was born with a heart disease.

LAUER: In May, he delivered an emotional monologue about his youngest son Billy’s health.

KIMMEL: So this poor kid, this is what he looked like on Monday. But this is what he looked like yesterday.

LAUER: When you walked out on the set that night, Jimmy, did you walk out intending to make headlines?

KIMMEL: Oh, no. No, I didn't. I figured it would be a video that people shared, I know how it goes. I know, you know, when somebody cries on television it tends to be something.

LAUER: So you knew that was gonna happen?

KIMMEL: Oh, yeah.

LAUER: No chance of not crying?

KIMMEL: Well, I had a – oh, yes, absolutely. For me, I was crying backstage, I think. I can’t keep it together with situations like that. But I had no idea it would become a matter of national debate.

LAUER: My take on it is this, and I hope you take this the right way, I was surprised to hear the reaction because it seemed to me as if people were saying, “Oh, my God, Jimmy Kimmel said something significant.” It was like they were saying, “Oh, he spoke in complete sentences.”

KIMMEL: I think that’s reasonable.

LAUER: Do you know what I mean by that?

KIMMEL: Yes, it’s like when an ape holds up an apple and says, “Red.” Everybody becomes very excited.

LAUER: Someone discovers fire.

KIMMEL: I think that you get painted as a caricature in a way, and not undeservedly so, and people have preconceived notions.

LAUER: A lot of people applauded you for kind of wading into that debate, a lot of people didn’t. Not to take a bit from your show, but give me a sense of some of the things you read online that really impacted you negatively.

KIMMEL: I understand people disagreeing with me. I don’t understand being angry when it comes to health care, I really don’t understand that. Because I think it’s obvious what my intent is and I don’t understand a lot of the backlash. What I especially don’t understand are the monstrous things people will write about, you know, my child and my wife.

LAUER: How do you deal with that when you read those things?

KIMMEL: It’s hard to deal with, it’s especially hard for my wife. So you have to put it out of your head and you have to understand that most people would not do that if they were having a one-on-one conversation with you. And that sometimes people are just trying to get a reaction out of you.

LAUER: There’s going to come a day when Billy is gonna be old enough to see that monologue. Do you want to be the one to show it to him?

KIMMEL: I do. But maybe for a different reason than you might think. I just know he’s not really gonna care. And also, knowing that he’s my son, there’s a good chance he’ll make fun of me for it.

LAUER: Why you were crying?  

KIMMEL: Yeah. And I have to say, that will make me feel better than anything.

LAUER: But what would you want him to know about what that moment was like for you?

KIMMEL: I don’t know if I even want him to know what it was like because my problems and my worries shouldn’t be his problems or his worries. I think he’s gonna have enough to worry about growing up with this questionable heart in his body. And I just want him to worry about hitting a home run in Little League. That’s all I want him to worry about.

(...)

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