As Republicans make a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s signature health care bill, they are facing an unlikely obstacle: Jimmy Kimmel. The ABC host has gone on the offensive over the past two nights, slamming Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy for failing to live up to Cassidy’s own “Jimmy Kimmel test,” saying that Cassidy “lied to my face.”
Back in May, Kimmel made an emotional plea to legislators after his son was born with a heart condition requiring emergency surgery. Cassidy later came on Kimmel’s show and promised he wouldn’t sign any bill that allowed insurance companies to charge more for those with preexisting conditions or to cap total coverage. The current bill, of which Cassidy is a co-sponsor, would provide block grants to states and allow them to waive several Obamacare protections for those with pre-existing conditions. CNN has a summary of what’s actually in the bill.
After Kimmel’s Tuesday night clip was widely shared, Cassidy appeared on several outlets, telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo that Kimmel “does not understand” what the bill does. Kimmel responded last night with another scorching monologue, reciting a litany of facts about the proposed bill and saying the Graham Cassidy bill is, “by many accounts, the worst health care bill yet.”
Kimmel is usually far from the most outspoken of the network late-night hosts. CBS’s Stephen Colbert and NBC’s Seth Meyers have been consistent in their criticism of the Trump presidency, with Colbert riding his political focus to the top of the ratings in total viewership. Jimmy Fallon, still haunted by a much-criticized interview with then-candidate Trump, has watched his star dim. But none of the hosts have seen their commentary rise to the level of relevance of Kimmel’s health care coverage.
As traditional journalists work to explain the vital, but often complex, negotiations surrounding health-care legislation, the spotlight Kimmel shines on the issue is welcome. Below, more on the politics of late night.
- No laughing matter: Last month, venerable television critic Bill Carter looked at the newfound political outrage of late-night TV.
- Kimmel vs. Cassidy: CNN’s Frank Pallotta stayed up late to summarize the latest round in Kimmel’s battle with the Louisiana senator.
- The danger of staying on the sidelines: Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show was once the undisputed king of late night. But, as The New York Times’s Dave Itzkoff reported in a May profile, Donald Trump’s presidency changed that.
- From behind the desk: For Vox, Caroline Framke offers a laudatory look at the pointed political commentary of Seth Meyers’s Late Night.
- Trump provides job security: Political comedy plays well off broadcast, too. John Oliver, Trevor Noah, and Bill Maher have all recently signed long-term deals to remain on their respective shows, notes The Hollywood Reporter’s Lesley Goldberg.
Other notable stories
- Sean Spicer is not sorry. In an interview with The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, Spicer takes some shots at the media and says he is “very happy” with his image. This morning, Axios’s Mike Allen reports that Spicer kept “copious notes” about his meetings in the White House, and that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be interested in them. When Allen asked Spicer about the notes, the former press secretary showed no interest in talking.
- CJR’s Alexandria Neason goes behind-the-scenes on the production of The Village Voice’s final print edition. Read all the way to the end for a hidden message from Voice staffers to the outlet’s owner.
- BuzzFeed’s Steven Perlberg reports that CNN’s digital operation is facing a shortfall of about $20 million. The company has aggressively pursued digital expansion and told Perlberg that it would continue to invest.
- Lillian Ross, who began writing for The New Yorker in the early days of the Truman presidency, has died. Rebecca Mead remembers Ross as not just a contributor to the magazine, “but a creator—one of those whose style and tone became a standard to which later writers aspired.” Ross’s 1950 profile of Ernest Hemingway is somewhere high on the list of most-anthologized pieces in the history of journalism.
- A clip of MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell screaming at staffers off the air was leaked to Mediaite. O’Donnell issued an apology on his Twitter feed.
- Former US attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Donald Trump in March, is launching a media career, hosting a new podcast from WNYC and signing on as a CNN contributor.