Will ABC Execs Stand Behind Jimmy Kimmel? No.

They wouldn’t sell him down the river, would they? Oh, come on. Of course they would.

Call me cynical, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if, a few months down the line (to make it look good), ABC announces that it’s wishing Jimmy Kimmel all the best in his future endeavors. Kimmel has been quite courageous in his defense of equal access to quality health care for every American–too courageous, perhaps, for executives who don’t want to rock the right-wing yacht.

You and I know that it’s only a matter of time before right-wing groups attempt to launch an advertiser boycott against Kimmel–in part due to outrage over his challenge to conservative orthodoxy on health care, in part as a means of sticking it to everyone who applauded when progressive activists put pressure on Bill O’Reilly’s advertisers prior to his departure from Fox News (to say nothing of the current “Stop Hannity” effort). Getting ABC to “repeal” Kimmel and “replace” him with a host perceived to be less hostile to conservative interests would be a huge coup for the MAGA crowd.

I have no confidence whatsoever that ABC will stand behind Kimmel once right-wingers come for his scalp. ABC is the same entity whose news division gave us hacks like Brit Hume and John Stossel back in the day. ABC is the same network that considered Rush Limbaugh’s arguments about climate change to be just as valid as Al Gore’s. ABC is the same outfit that essentially refused to acknowledge that there is a link between human-caused climate change and the hurricanes that have laid waste to Florida, Texas and the Caribbean. If you were Kimmel, you’d probably be a bit nervous about your career prospects, too.

Remember that speech Ned Beatty gave to Peter Finch in Network? By challenging Republican orthodoxy on health care–and, by implication, the financial interests that support that orthodoxy–Kimmel has, in his own way, “meddled with the primal forces of nature”; I wouldn’t be shocked in the least if he’s forced to atone, even if the Graham-Cassidy bill is ultimately defeated thanks to the opposition of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

To paraphrase another classic cinema line, the right is fixing to strike down upon Kimmel with great vengeance and furious anger. The MAGA crowd sees the Affordable Care Act as nothing more than a welfare handout–and thus, they regard Kimmel as an apologist for the “dependency class.” They know that ABC executives have weak knees and weak stomachs, and will cower in fear at the thought of being perceived to be supportive of a “divisive” and “partisan” late-night host who’s “too political” for certain tastes. They know these executives will do anything to shut up conservative complaints.

Remember four decades ago, when ABC aired Roots? If they tried to air that miniseries today, right-wingers would label the program “anti-American, anti-white, race-baiting Black Lives Matter propaganda”–and ABC would bow to such complaints and cancel the broadcast. This is a cowardly media culture we live in today–the media culture that forced Phil Donahue and Keith Olbermann off MSNBC, the media culture that seeks endlessly to normalize Donald Trump, the media culture that disavows debate over policy in favor of covering politicians as though they were celebrities and not public servants. That media culture will, sooner rather than later, bring a sad and sickening end to Jimmy Kimmel’s TV career.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.