Could Jimmy Kimmel fill the void Jay Leno left as the safest couch for conservatives on late night television?
With Leno’s exit, the late night scene appears to have become less welcoming for Republican politicians and conservative commentators. Politico reports that Leno’s replacement, Jimmy Fallon, “is eyed a bit warily by some Republicans.”
However hostile Fallon actually is to Republicans, he can’t be worse than David Letterman at the 11:35 p.m. hour. Letterman is basically an open partisan of President Obama’s.
That leaves Jimmy Kimmel, the third of the three major hosts in that time slot. There is little reason to believe that the host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” is a conservative, but Kimmel hasn’t exactly shied away from mocking Obamacare — and not just its implementation. He also had an engaging interview with Bill O’Reilly just last week. O’Reilly certainly wasn’t treated unfairly.
What’s more, Kimmel is actually friends with conservatives, which is not something insignificant in the Hollywood bubble. This means that conservative views may not be totally alien to him. One of his best friends is conservative-leaning comedian Adam Carolla, and he got his big break on television as the host of “Win Ben Stein’s Money.” Stein, of course, is a former Nixon speechwriter and conservative pundit. He said last year that he remains pretty close to Kimmel, emailing with him on a weekly basis.
Whatever Kimmel’s actual political leanings, with Leno out of the late night game, it might be good business for him to roll out the red carpet for Republican politicians. Why not corner that market? Kimmel doesn’t have to embrace a conservative worldview. He just has to show he is not viscerally hostile to conservative politicos when they show up for a chat.