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Jimmy Kimmel on Not Pushing Kanye West to Defend Trump: 'His Silence Answered the Question'
"I think he doesn’t feel the same type of pressure that most people feel in a situation like that," the late-night host said.
The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host was accused of letting West off the hook when the musician refused to answer why he believes Donald Trump cares about black people. After West hesitated, Kimmel went to commercial and didn't bring up the topic again when they returned from break. "I think Kanye is kind of in a perpetual state of being interviewed and he shares his thoughts constantly. So the idea that he needed to come up with the answer right there on the spot isn’t necessarily something I agree with," said Kimmel. "I think he doesn’t feel the same type of pressure that most people feel in a situation like that. And I think it’s a question that I hope he will answer eventually. But to force an answer out of somebody isn’t necessarily the way to go."
Kimmel also explained that he did not cut to commercial break because West was unable to answer the question. "I went to commercial because the segment was supposed to be eight minutes long and we were already at 10 minutes. I didn’t have time to pick another leg of the conversation up there," he said.
"I felt that his silence answered the question in some ways," said Kimmel about why he chose not to keep pushing the question. "And I also know that if Kanye wanted to continue on a subject then he is not shy about continuing on that subject. I also had a lot of areas I wanted to cover. I didn’t want to spend the whole interview on one thing."
The late-night host also discussed the time he almost interviewed Omarosa Manigault Newman in 2004, though she backed out at the last minute when she thought the show wanted her to take a lie detector test. "What happened was, my Uncle Frank lied about something. And I thought it would be funny to give him a fake lie detector test on the air, something that he thought was real," said Kimmel. "She saw the setup for the lie detector test and decided that we were going to spring it on her, which, if you know anything about taking a polygraph test, that’s not how it works."
Kimmel added that there was no way Manigault Newman would have been able to accurately take the lie detector test. "It takes a long time. There’s no ding and no buzz. It’s a chart that they analyze afterwards. So that was preposterous just to start with," he said. "She stormed out of there and the show was live so we had no guest. I don’t remember what I talked about, I probably just talked about her the whole time. But she was very angry."
"I remember thinking it’s better this way. I didn’t want to have her on the show," he added. "There’s clearly something wrong with her. And the fact that Donald Trump hired her is really all you need to know about that guy and his organization."
He concluded, "I’m sure there was plenty that she was trying to hide."
Kimmel's involvement with Comedy Central's The Man Show, which he co-created and starred in alongside Adam Carolla, was also a topic of discussion in the interview, as some of the series' segments have been scrutinized in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Kimmel said that he doesn't think about the show any differently now than when it was on the air. "I don’t think you can’t look at things in that way. If you do, you’re bound to lose. That show was always tongue in cheek. And some people enjoyed it for the wrong reasons," he said. "But I think you can put a lot of shows into that category. And it was a show that people liked and we had fun doing it and I learned a lot doing it."
"As the show went on, we refined it. The reason we left that show was because there was a specific day on which Adam [Carolla] and I looked at each other and said, 'It’s time to end this show,'" he recalled. "Adam was talking about the dad of one of his friends. And he was talking about what an idiot this guy was. This guy would say, 'Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.' And Adam said that intending to illustrate how dumb this guy was and instead our studio audience laughed."
Kimmel also discussed whether or not he has been asked to host the Oscars again. "The answer is no. They are in a state of flux and typically they decide who their producers are going to be before they decide who the host is," he said.
"I have mixed feelings about it," he said about potentially hosting again. "I sometimes lay in bed at night praying that they don’t ask me, so I don’t have to make that choice. It’s a lot of work."
He added that he thinks the new category honoring popular movies is a good idea. "Let’s be honest, awards are meaningless just right off the bat. So to add one doesn’t diminish the others. You’re still getting a trophy for pretending. There are some really great, big box office movies that are award-worthy. And not just a blockbuster award," he said. "These are in there own way great movies and I think they also are truer to what the movie experience is supposed to be. There’s a lot of work put into them, there’s a lot of money put into them and the idea that they would get ruled out completely because their subject matter isn’t serious is silly."
Kimmel also said that he would like to see a category honoring the best comedy film of the year. "It would be better if the voters in the Academy took comedy more seriously. Because any actor or director will tell you it’s harder to make people laugh than cry and I believe that to be true," he said.
Many people, including Trump and Megyn Kelly, have made note of the fact that the 2018 Oscars ceremony had the lowest ratings of all time. "Isn’t it funny to hear someone like Megyn Kelly, who based on her ratings probably won’t make it to the end of the year on NBC, talking about anyone else’s ratings? You know, network television is in decline. The ratings for everything are going down every year. There are too many shows to keep up with," he said. "I said it beforehand, I said this year’s Oscars are going to be the lowest-rated. Maybe if they shorten the show it will cause an artificial spike in the ratings. But that’s just how it’s going to go. The audience is going to get smaller and smaller every year."
This article originally appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.