Jimmy Kimmel Defends Tucker Carlson’s TV Show: ‘I Want to Know Where People Are Coming From’

·2-min read

Here’s one you might not expect from Jimmy Kimmel: The nightly slayer of conservatives and right-leaning commentators believes there’s value in “Tucker Carlson Tonight” being on the air.

“No, I don’t think we should cancel Tucker Carlson,” the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” host said on the Thursday episode of the New York Times’ podcast “Sway” with Kara Swisher, who asked him outright whether “Tucker Carlson Tonight” should be run off television.

Kimmel’s arguably unexpected free-speech advocacy certainly came with a whopping load of caveats, however — after all, Carlson, the entire Fox News lineup and conservatives, in general, are regular fodder for his nightly monologue.

“If you don’t like Tucker Carlson, you should not buy the products that are advertised on his show,” Kimmel continued. “And if you feel like writing a letter to those companies, you should write a letter to them. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to shut people up, because I want to know where people are coming from. I want to know what they think. I want to know if they have horrible thoughts. I want to hear them. I want to hear their confessions.”

To be fair, Kimmel also wants the material. And once he was through defending Carlson’s right to stay on Fox News Channel, he got the ol’ insult machine fired up and revving:

“I think he is a phony,” he said. “I think he’s an algorithm. I think his audience created him. I think he started out as a fairly down-the-middle-political broadcaster in a cute little bow tie with polka-dots on it.”

But perhaps his biggest dig of the day was comparing Carlson to the Sackler family, who founded Purdue Pharma and were held significantly responsible for the opioid boom that has taken tens of thousands of American lives.

“I think he’s like the media version of the Sackler family,” Kimmel said. “He’s knowingly producing this deadly opioid of lies that has a devastating effect on the country. But he’s OK with it, because it’s making him rich.”

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