Trump White House pressured Disney to censor Jimmy Kimmel – Rolling Stone

In early 2018, the US national security apparatus was fixated on reports that North Korea was building nuclear weapons that could reach the US or that Russia was plotting chemical-weapon assassinations in Europe. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump was busy attacking his idea of ​​an enemy of the state: nightly host Jimmy Kimmel.

According to two former Trump administration officials, the then president was so upset by Kimmel’s comedic jokes that he instructed his White House staff to call one of Disney’s top executives in Washington, D.C. to complain and demand action. (ABC, on which Jimmy KimmelLive! has long aired, is owned by Disney.)

In at least two separate calls that took place around the time Trump finished his first year in office, the White House conveyed to Disney the severity of its anger at Kimmel, the ex-officials say. Rolling stone. Trump’s staff said the free world leader wanted the billion-dollar company to rein in the Trump-trashing ABC host, and that Trump felt Kimmel was, in the characterization of a former senior official, “deeply dishonest and kind-hearted” Has been. things that [Trump] would ever be charged.

The incident was so bizarre that news of it spread through the corridors of power in Washington, DC. Trump wanted Kimmel to tone down his anti-Trump humor.

“There was at least one call to Disney [that I know of]a third former official, who worked in the Trump White House, recalled. Sources spoke Rolling stone on the condition of anonymity to speak freely and maintain relationships in Trumpworld and conservative circles. “I don’t know to whom[m], but it happened. No one thought it would change anything, but DJT was focused on it, so we had to do something… It was mainly doing something to counter [Trump]’Hey, we did this.’”

Rolling stone was able to identify one target of the White House’s dogged, doomed press campaign: former top Disney lobbyist Richard Bates. The sources say Trump staff reached out to Bates to convey the president’s anger at Kimmel’s monologues and jabs. Bates, who was a prominent Disney executive and a Washington fixture for over 30 years, passed away in December 2020.

The pressure campaign ultimately failed, but the previously unreported effort marked yet another moment when Trump showed an eagerness to exercise the immense powers of his office for personal gain and very petty reasons. (Indeed, one of Trump’s two impeachments was triggered by this impulse.)

And with Trump once again campaigning for the White House, there is no sign that his desire to use federal power in this way has ebbed an inch. In a recent radio interview, the former president said he is entitled to a “revenge tour” if he wins the presidency in 2024, while claiming he would not take the opportunity if reelected.

But during his presidency, Trump spent inordinate amounts of time threatening late-night TV shows and celebrities for their pranks on the famous thin-skinned former game show host.

In 2018, Trump’s FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the agency was a crude joke Show up late host Stephen Colbert on Trump’s cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin. Trump raged at Colbert in an interview, calling him a “no talent” who uses “dirty” language. But despite the president’s irritation and viewer complaints, the FCC ultimately declined to take action against the nighttime host. While the case was being investigated, the then-president was interested enough to repeatedly ask aides whether the FCC had made a decision yet, a source with direct knowledge of the questions says.


The following year, Trump instructed his staff and lawyers to see if the FCC and the Justice Department could retaliate against late-night shows criticizing him after he was enraged by the jokes about him in a SNL repetition. According to sources familiar with the matter, Trump suggested to lieutenants whom he (erroneously) believed that shows like Kimmel’s and SNL had violated an obscure federal rule requiring broadcasters to spend an equal amount of time on candidates’ posts.

The Trump White House’s attempts to censor critics also extended to social media. In 2019, the Trump White House reached out to Twitter, demanding the social media company remove a tweet from Chrissy Teigen calling Trump a “pussy ass bitch,” according to recent testimony from a former Twitter trust and security official.

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