Fox News’ Sean Hannity and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel have been in a heated feud for the last week over a joke Kimmel made about First Lady Melania Trump, which quickly escalated into personal attacks and back-and-forth snipes through social media and on their talk shows.
The dispute between the two men began on Wednesday after an angry Hannity took to Fox News to call Kimmel a “despicable disgrace” over jokes he made about Melania Trump’s accent and grasp of the English language. Hannity vowed to continue attacking Kimmel until he apologizes to the First Lady.
Kimmel released an apology Sunday afternoon via Twitter, stating that “while I admit I did have fun with our back and forth, after some thought, I realize that the level of vitriol from all sides (mine and me included) does nothing good for anyone and, in fact, is harmful to our country,” Kimmel tweeted.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kimmel is Accused of Making a Joke About Melania Trump’s Slovenian Accent, which Angered Hannity
A segment on Kimmel’s Monday show played a clip of Melania Trump, who was born in Slovenia, reading to children at a White House Easter celebration. After the clip ended, Kimmel jokingly mocks her accent.
“Dees and dat,” Kimmel repeated, with a laugh.
Kimmel turned to his sidekick, Guillermo Rodriguez, and said, “Guillermo, you know what this means, you could be first lady of the United States.”
That segment apparently angered Hannity, one of cable television’s staunchest supporters of the Republican president and the First Lady.
An online petition launched recently, calling for a boycott of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and has exceeded its goal of 50,000 signatures. Organizers say the petition will eventually be sent to “the front door of Disney/ABC Studios” in Burbank, California.
“We may not get him kicked off the air,” the petition says. “But we can send a message that these attacks on our First Lady will NOT be tolerated!”
The petition has now reached over 100 thousand signatures.
2. Hannity Responded to Kimmel’s Joke, Vowing to Continue Attacking Kimmel Until he Apologizes to the First Lady
According to the Los Angeles times, Hannity said that he’s “not in the business of silencing Kimmel” and doesn’t want his late-night show boycotted and only wants Kimmel to apologize to the first lady.
“This is not something I prefer to do on the show,” Hannity continued. “I don’t take joy in this, but I have just had it with the utter hypocrisy. The unrelenting attacks against not only a sitting president but his wife and his daughter and his 11-year-old son, the first lady of the United States, really? This never ends. It needs to end.”
Hannity’s initial attack on Kimmel, calling him an “ass clown,” was enthusiastically countered by Kimmel, who said Hannity was the “whole ass circus.”
“I was thinking about it this morning; is it an ass that’s a clown or a clown that lives in an ass, like a little Bozo bird in your butt cheeks? I honestly don’t know,” Kimmel said on his Thursday evening show. “And more importantly, why is Sean Hannity fantasizing about clowns in the ass? Is this your thing at night? At 2 a.m., you got your laptop open to Breitbart, you sneak to hump a pillow from the Ivanka Trump collection, quietly, so your wife doesn’t wake up and make you go to church?”
3. The Feud Went on for Days, with Both Men Attacking One Another on Twitter and on their Shows
Hannity then opened his Friday show by calling Kimmel a “self-righteous, sanctimonious social-justice warrior,” attempted to expose Kimmel as a “perverted, misogynist” with a “racist past” and used clips from Kimmel’s early days on “The Man Show” to do it.
In one clip that Hannity shared, Kimmel is dressed as former NBA player Karl Malone and wears dark paint on his body and face and allegedly mocks the African-American dialect.
Hannity tweeted the clip and tagged Disney, the parent company of ABC, which produces Jimmy Kimmel Live!. “Are you proud to employ Harvey Weinstein Jr? Are you proud of this?” the Fox News conservative commentator wrote.
On Twitter, Kimmel responded to Hannity by thanking him for the “trip down ‘Man Show’ memory lane” and defended the series by saying “every woman involved willingly participated — it’s called a comedy bit. It’s what you’ve been unwittingly doing for years.”
Kimmel continued by referring to a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape that emerged during presidential election, showing Donald Trump talking about fame, and how it enabled him to grope and attempt to have sex with women whenever he wanted.
Many of the insults Hannity and Kimmel traded involved their ratings: Kimmel is third behind Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon among late-night comics, while Hannity lost his cable news ratings lead to Rachel Maddow last month.
The back-and-forth continued through Thursday and Friday and showed no signs of letting up, with both TV hosts launching attacks through their shows and on Twitter.
Friday night, Hannity threw out one last insult, calling Kimmel “Harvey Weinstein Jr.” and suggesting that their feud was just getting started.
4. Kimmel was Lambasted on Twitter for Allegedly Making a Homophobic Joke in a Response to Hannity
Kimmel is facing criticism after repeatedly making lewd jokes suggesting a homosexual relationship between Hannity and President Trump.
Over the course of trading blows with Hannity, Kimmel allegedly tweeted a few homophobic comments that did not sit well with many people in the Twittersphere.
Kimmel’s jokes sparked a backlash from several social media users, who accused him of alienating his LGBT audience and using being gay as a “punchline.”
Some accused Kimmel of “liberal hypocrisy,” while others asked Kimmel to hire somebody else to write his jokes for him.
“Stop making sh**y f***ing gay jokes,” added Ryan Houlihan. “Hire me to write you better gay jokes. Hire any queer person to write you literally any other jokes.”
5. Kimmel Released an Apology via Twitter Sunday Afternoon, Stating that this “Level of Vitriol” was Harmful to the Country
Kimmel took to Twitter to offer an apology Sunday to Hannity, saying that the exchanges were pointless and not good for America and that he was himself in part to blame for letting the feud continue.
“While I admit I did have fun with our back and forth, after some thought, I realize that the level of vitriol from all sides (mine and me included) does nothing good for anyone and, in fact, is harmful to our country,” Kimmel tweeted.
“I, too, will give my words more thought and recognize my role in inciting their hatefulness,” Kimmel continued. “Mrs. Trump almost certainly has enough to worry about without being used as a prop to increase TV ratings.”
Kimmel also apologized to those in the gay community who took offense to a joke he made in the middle of his feud with Hannity. “I most certainly did not intend to belittle or upset members of the gay community and to those who took offense, I apologize,” the host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” said in a statement Sunday.
Hannity also posted a tweet responding to the news that Kimmel issued an apology. His full response will be updated once it is released.