“There was one time, right around the beginning of this whole Trump thing… maybe not quite [eight years ago],” Kimmel told the hosts of Naked Lunch podcast.
“I said listen, I get it, you’re right. I have lost half of my fanbase, maybe more. Ten years ago, among Republicans I was the most popular talk show. At least according to the research they did,” he added.
“I get it if [blocking Trump jokes is] what they want to do. I said, ‘If that’s what you want to do I don’t begrudge you for it, but I’m not going to do that. If you want someone else to host the show, that’s fine with me. I’m just not going to do it like that.’”
Kimmel then said that ABC then had to be okay with his Trump jokes.
“I was serious. I couldn’t live with myself [if I didn’t grill Trump],” he said.
“I want to be on the air when Donald Trump goes to jail,” Kimmel also said, referencing his recent deal to continue hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live! for another three seasons.
“I still believe, even after living through the OJ [Simpson] trial, that justice triumphs in America and I know there are a billion different examples to the contrary. [But] how can you commit this many crimes and be this unethical and be this terrible and get away with it?”
“Being wanted is important,” Kimmel told Howard Stern. “ABC wanting me to stay. I didn’t know, maybe they wanted to start over, maybe the people running the network now want to find a person of their own for the next 20 years.
“Ultimately, I was having a hard time with the leaving part of it. The emotional toll that that takes. It was easier to worry about that in three years,” he said.