The late night host said he received “hundreds of horrible, hateful, sometimes violent Twitter and Facebook posts,” including death threats aimed at him and his family.
Jimmy Kimmel apologized for mocking Vice President Mike Pence, though not without cracking a few jokes.
“This was probably the strangest Mother’s Day ever, especially for me,” the host said as he kicked off Monday’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! “I spent some of my Mother’s Day in a Twitter feud with, well, you know that weird baby that lives in the White House? The one with the orange face? Well, he is in a mood! And apparently part of the reason for that mood is something I did.”
The ABC host explained that he previously aired an edited segment that featured Pence delivering medical supplies to a Virginia health care center. After he dropped off some boxes, an aide informed Pence that the remaining boxes were empty. The vice president responded, “Well, can I carry the empty ones? Just for the camera?”
The video prompted President Donald Trump to criticize Kimmel on Twitter on Sunday. “More Fake News. This time from Jimmy Kimmel’s last place show!” the president tweeted.
Go make Melania brunch. https://t.co/ZenUXrcXSS
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) May 10, 2020
“Turns out he was just joking. How anyone can tell when Mike Pence is joking, I don’t know,” said Kimmel. “I had only watched part of the video. It turns out there were 29 minutes of this on C-SPAN that apparently indicate he was joking about carrying the empty boxes for the cameras. Which again, I didn’t know because I don’t have the mental endurance it requires to watch Mike Pence deliver boxes for 29 minutes.” Kimmel added, “I was wrong. He was joking.”
Once the host learned that he was wrong, he took down the video and apologized to Pence on Twitter.
it would appear that @vp was joking about carrying empty boxes for a staged publicity stunt. The full video reveals that he was carrying full boxes for a staged publicity stunt. My apologies. I know how dearly this administration values truth. https://t.co/hI9cO4lxcX
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) May 8, 2020
“Apologizing to the Trump administration for spreading untruth is like apologizing to Barry Bonds for using steroids — it’s hard,” continued Kimmel. “But the outrage from the MAGA hats, the outpouring of venom was disgusting — stupid too, but mostly disgusting.”
The host said that a number of Twitter users sent him messages “wishing death on me, on my family, on my son. Some of them said they hope my son dies, they threatened my wife. There were hundreds of horrible, hateful, sometimes violent Twitter and Facebook posts.”
Kimmel said that Pence’s team demanded that he apologize for the video on his show. “Because this is what they’re thinking about while thousands of Americans are dying every day. Jokes from late night talk show hosts,” he said. “It was my mistake. I do apologize to the vice president.” He added, “Spreading misinformation is their thing and I stepped on their toes.”
Kimmel next asked Pence to persuade Trump to apologize for a number of his actions, including separating migrant children from their parents, inviting the Taliban to Camp David, siding with Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence, the limited availability of coronavirus tests and more.
In response to Trump’s tweet criticizing Kimmel, the ABC host said that the president “ignored a pandemic and his wife on Mother’s Day.”
“This really is the dumbest time to be alive,” Kimmel said. “I always assumed that if I got involved in some kind of a Twitter feud with the president it would be with President Kanye in 2028. But no, it came early.”
Watch Kimmel’s full apology below.