Civil Rights

Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda

The man who once made bikini-clad women jump on trampolines now wants to set the nation's agenda on guns and health care.

It's not a joke.

Then again, less and less of what Jimmy Kimmel says these days is meant to be funny. The same is true for his peers - think Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, James Corden, Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee.

They've jettisoned the Johnny Carson model of late night TV: even-handed political barbs both parties could enjoy.

Kimmel, who once performed his late night duties with a wink, now leads the sanctimonious pack.

The host of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" got serious earlier this year when he shared a heartfelt story of his young son's heart operation. Parents everywhere could hear the pain in his quivering voice. He also used the occasion to suggest any U.S. health plan cover pre-existing conditions.

"I think that's something that whether you're a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?" the former "Man Show" host asked.

Modern health care is complicated, to say the very least. Viewers could understand Kimmel's stance all the same.

But that was then.

More recently, Kimmel got overtly political by attacking the GOP's plan to address ObamaCare's many woes. This wasn't the bipartisan Kimmel from a few months back. This was fire and brimstone time, with talking points fed to him by Democratic majority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer - literally.

This week, the horrific shooting in Las Vegas sent Kimmel back into attack mode, against the GOP, of course.

"They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country," Kimmel said of the Grand Old Party.

AWR Hawkins, who days ago won a prize for his reporting on gun issues from a pro-Second Amendment group, performed a withering fact-check on Kimmel's claims

Did any other mainstream media outlet even attempt a similar service? No (assuming a good faith Google News search can be trusted).

PolitiFact did so, but only covered part of Kimmel's comments. In short, the outlet accused by conservative outlets of having bias issues of its own let him off the hook.

The vast majority of news stories tied to Kimmel's gun control rant were unabashedly positive. Mash notes, really.

That's the way modern reporters operate. They repeat the progressive claims from the late night crowd with little to no fact checks or scrutiny.

And they sorely need both.

Consider how comedians ran with the "Trump dossier" without a thorough vetting, or how Colbert savaged President Trump for gutting Meals on Wheels (only it didn't actually happen).

Fake news? Late night comics are marinating in it.

It's also worth remembering that when "Saturday Night Live," as hopelessly liberal as Kimmel and co., actually held former President Obama's feet to the fire the media stepped in to defend the president. SNL got fact checked by both CNN and The Washington Post, and the comedians were ruled to be too harsh.

The rules are different for conservatives.

The AP used 11(!) different fact checkers for former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin's book, "Going Rogue." Both The Washington Post and The New York Times crowdsourced its fact checking on Palin's emails back in 2011 - when she wasn't a candidate for any office.

What's dangerous about all of this? For starters, the late night rhetoric is hopelessly one-sided. Audiences aren't getting the full picture on the issues in play, be it immigration, health care or gun control. Which Democrat will Kimmel collude with next, and will we even find out?

When the late night crew and journalists pick a side, the American voter isn't getting the full story.

This isn't to say it's wrong for comedians to lay off the jokes now and then. Once upon a time late night comedians took a far different approach to a national tragedy. They performed a patriotic, healing duty immediately following the September 11 attacks. Folks like David Letterman and the cast of "Saturday Night Live" bridged the gap between the horrific headlines and humor, allowing the nation to laugh again after so many tears.

They didn't get partisan or blame one political party. They mourned with us.

That was then. Today, the late night squad is all about scoring partisan points, facts be darned. It's the very opposite of funny.

"I am politicizing my son's health problems because I have to," Kimmel said recently. Here's why that pleas sounds inauthentic. Where was he during the disastrous ObamaCare rollout? Did he politicize how President Obama lied to the nation to pass his legislation ("if you like your doctor ...). Where was Kimmel's soapbox then when regular Americans either lost coverage or saw their premiums soar?

Crickets. And audiences won't forget that.

The bottom lines for Kimmel and co. may stay strong. Colbert's "Late Show" ratings have been hearty in the Age of Trump. Kimmel's numbers may creep up, too, following all the fawning coverage.

That hardly means he's helping the country the way he pretends to be doing.

Christian Toto is the editor of the right-leaning HollywoodInToto.com and the host of the Hollywood in Toto Podcast.

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