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Jimmy Kimmel agrees with Bob Iger: ‘My place is always going to be in the middle’

The late-night show host dipped into politics last month, but he’s not going stay there.

89th Annual Academy Awards - Show Kevin Winter / Getty Images
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Last month, Jimmy Kimmel became, strangely, one of the most important voices on the U.S. health-care system. Two weeks ago, he used the beginning of this show to deliver an impassioned speech about the massacre in Las Vegas.

Kimmel’s dip into advocacy won him lots of eyeballs, praise from critics — and a warning from his boss, Disney CEO Bob Iger: “The show is to entertain,” Iger told The New York Times last week. “I think he should be careful.”

No argument from Kimmel. He says he doesn’t have any desire to turn his late-night show into a political show.

“I think he's right in that if you go too far, if you talk about it too much, then it's not interesting,” Kimmel told Recode in an interview at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where he will host a week of shows starting Monday night. “Then it doesn't have an impact ... I think my place is always going to be in the middle.”

Kimmel also said that Iger hasn’t a word about the monologues to him — “no attempts to dissuade me from talking about any of the stuff, ever.” But he says Iger did tell him he supports Kimmel’s efforts to raise money for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and that Disney was going to “make a big donation and help me.”

Kimmel also won’t rule out other forays into politics, if he feels personally motivated: “I still have to do what I do always do, which is talk about what's happening in the news, and talk about what's happening in my life,” he said. “If things happen, like what happened with my son and what happened in Las Vegas, and I feel compelled to speak about them, I will.”

Kimmel had plenty to say about other topics, including Harvey Weinstein, ESPN host Jemele Hill, making a television show in an era when TV audiences are melting away, and what it was like to tell jokes in New York City after Sept. 11.

You can hear all of that in an upcoming episode of the Recode Media podcast. In the meantime, you can catch up on back episodes, which include interviews with everyone from Samantha Bee to documentarian Ken Burns to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. And if you haven’t subscribed — for free! — you can do that here.

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