Former President Donald Trump had his staff pressure Disney to crack down on late-night host Jimmy Kimmel's show, according to Rolling Stone.
Trump in early 2018 was "so upset by Kimmel's comedic jabs that he directed his White House staff to call up one of Disney's top executives in Washington, D.C., to complain and demand action," according to the report.
Disney is the parent company of ABC, which airs "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
Trump aides placed at least two separate phone calls at the time to convey the "severity of his fury with Kimmel," former administration officials told the outlet. Aides pushed Disney to "rein in" Kimmel and said that Trump felt Kimmel had been "very dishonest and doing things that [Trump] would have once sued over," a former official told Rolling Stone.
One target of the White House's failed campaign to censor Kimmel was former Disney lobbyist Richard Bates.
Word of the pressure campaign spread and other administration officials who had nothing to do with it began to hear from their contacts at Disney who expressed confusion at the requests.
"At least one call was made to Disney [that I know of]," a third former official told the outlet. "I do not know to who[m], but it happened. Nobody thought it was going to change anything but DJT was focused on it so we had to do something…It was doing something, mostly, to say to [Trump], 'Hey, we did this.'"
Kimmel mocked the report on Twitter, calling it "another perfect call" in a reference to Trump's defense of calls that have gotten him in legal jeopardy in the past.
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The report underscores Trump's efforts to use the power of the White House to target his critics and late-night hosts.
In 2017, then-FCC Chairman Ajit Pai launched an investigation into CBS host Stephen Colbert after he mocked Trump during a monologue. Pai, who was appointed by Trump, suggested that Colbert's remarks were "obscene" and vowed to take "appropriate action." The FCC ultimately did not take any action despite announcing that it had received thousands of complaints about the broadcast.
Trump at the time raged at Colbert, claiming that his 2015 appearance on his program was the "highest rating he's ever had."
"You see a no-talent guy like Colbert. There's nothing funny about what he says," he told Time in 2017. "And what he says is filthy. And you have kids watching. And it only builds up my base. It only helps me, people like him. The guy was dying. By the way they were going to take him off television, then he started attacking me and he started doing better. But his show was dying."
about comedy in the Trump era