September 22, 2018
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Jimmy Kimmel and Trump feud over the president’s favorite subject: TV ratings

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP | BDN
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP | BDN
Jimmy Kimmel speaks at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Elahe Izadi, The Washington Post

Jimmy Kimmel did not take kindly to President Donald Trump’s swipe at the Oscars telecast.

This year’s Academy Awards drew 26.5 million viewers, which is down 20 percent from last year and the lowest ratings for the Oscars since Nielsen began tracking them in 1974. The plunge did not go unnoticed by Trump, who has long been fixated on ratings and whose Twitter archive is filled with years of Oscars criticism.

“I got a little surprise this morning,” Kimmel, who hosted Sunday’s Oscars, explained on his late-night show Monday. “I woke up, I brushed my teeth, I looked at my phone, I got a text saying, ‘Look at Trump’s Twitter account,’ as if I wasn’t going to do that anyway.”

Trump had tweeted: “Lowest rated Oscars in HISTORY. Problem is, we don’t have Stars anymore – except your President (just kidding, of course)!”

Kimmel read Trump’s critical tweet on air, adding sarcastically, “Of course he’s kidding – he’s not narcissistic!”

“Trump loves saying that ratings are down to insinuate that is a show of some kind of show of support for him,” Kimmel continued, “but the truth is, every year since Netflix happened, ratings are down for every big TV show: the Super Bowl, Grammys, Emmys, Golden Globes. But Trump thinks he caused the ratings to go down.”

Since Kimmel hosted the Oscars, he said he had to respond: “Thanks, lowest rated President in HISTORY.”

Kimmel added: “I want to point out that my tweet got more than twice as many likes as his tweet. We get under his orange skin.”

Trump’s long-standing issue with the Academy Awards is a shame, Kimmel said, because he thinks Trump would enjoy the best-picture winner, “The Shape of Water.”

“It’s about a monster that has sex with a woman who can’t talk about it,” Kimmel said. “Basically, it’s like his life story.” (This is probably a reference to porn actress Stormy Daniels, who says she was paid money to stay quiet about an alleged affair with Trump).

As Kimmel noted, ratings for this year’s other big TV events – the Golden Globes, the Grammys and the Super Bowl – all fell considerably shorter than 2017.

While many conservatives criticized this year’s Oscars as anti-Trump, the direct digs at the president were minimal compared with last year. This year, Kimmel did make some cracks about Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, but the comic spent most of his monologue addressing sexism and the Me Too movement. That makes sense, given Hollywood’s reckoning with workplace harassment and abuse is so cataclysmic that it’s rippled through several industries and sparked a national conversation about sexual misconduct.

“A film that’s up for 13 Oscars is ‘The Shape of Water,’ written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, a wonderful man,” Kimmel said during his Academy Awards monologue. “And thanks to Guillermo, we will always remember this year as the year men screwed up so badly, women started dating fish.”

Oscar ratings have declined every year since 2014, when they reached 43.7 million viewers. Sunday’s totals rival the 2008 Oscars as the worst, when “No Country for Old Men” won best picture and 31.8 million viewers tuned in.

Often the success of the Academy Awards is tied to box-office interest (the high mark for ratings came in 1998 when “Titanic” won the top prize). “The Shape of Water” has grossed $57 million domestically. While that’s nothing near the domestic totals for “The Last Jedi” ($619 million) or “Wonder Woman” ($413 million), it’s actually the top-grossing best picture winner in five years, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Other best-picture nominees were also box-office successes. “Dunkirk,” which won three other prizes, grossed $188 million at the domestic box office. “Get Out,” which won best original screenplay, grossed $176 million.

PolitiFact rated Trump’s Oscar’s tweet as “true” – the same rating the website gave to 24 out of 480 Trump statements that they’ve examined.

Before Trump’s successful run for the White House began, the former reality-TV host live-tweeted his awards show commentary, and often found ways to criticize the Obama administration and tout his own political ambitions in the process.

His most-discussed Oscars tweet was about Kim Novak, who appeared at the 2014 ceremony: “Kim should sue her plastic surgeon!” (The actress later publicly spoke against “bullies” who attacked her appearance.)

In February 2015, Trump had an idea that he shared in an Instagram video: “The Academy Awards last night were absolutely terrible. Terrible, boring, ugly sets, everything. I have the perfect host for next year: me.”

The Academy didn’t take him up on the suggestion. Four months later, Trump announced his candidacy for president, and he spent the 2016 Oscars at a political rally in Alabama. Chris Rock hosted the awards show instead.

 


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