ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel was essentially fired from his position as comedic color commentator on ESPN's Monday Night Football.
After two editions of the show, Kimmel was let go for a quip about former QB and announcer Joe Theismann, in which he said that Theismann, who was let go last season, was “watching from his living room with steam coming from his ears.”
The next day, Monday Night Football producer Jay Rothman characterized Kimmel's joke as “classless and disappointing,” adding that “it was cheap.”
Rothman confirmed Kimmel won’t be back.
This is reminiscent of 2003, when ESPN bowed to pressure and accepted Rush Limbaugh’s resignation after the talk-show host directed commentary at the media about quarterback Donovan McNabb’s overly favorable press coverage.
Sports talk used to be the last bastion of freeform ranting.
Looks like PC-itis has really infected the announcing booth when a commentator gets let go for expressing an opinion and a comedian gets fired for telling a joke.
On another ambiguously funny note, Stephen Colbert was teasing as usual when he announced that he’s a candidate for the U.S. presidency.
But the law could create some serious trouble for the satirical talk-show host.
Congress has created a load of complex election laws that Colbert may have already triggered with his latest politically charged prank.
The Comedy Central notable executed the necessary documents to have his name added to both the Democratic and Republican primary ballots in South Carolina. In addition, he set up a Web site for his budding campaign while at the same time declaring that he was crossing out the part of an oath stating that he would not “knowingly violate any election law.”
Colbert appears to be mildly serious. He indicated that he has sought the advice of an election law firm, Wiley Rein. The caricaturist switched to his campaign site a petition seeking signatures from the show’s Web site, based on his lawyers’ recommendations.
If Colbert actually follows through as he has promised and pays the fees ($2,500) and collects enough signatures (3,000), campaign finance laws will expose his show and network to violations that could even involve criminal penalties.
To the extent that Colbert’s cable show promotes his candidacy, it could arguably be viewed as an illegal “in-kind” contribution from Comedy Central.
The whole problem might be mitigated if Colbert would do something he almost never does — admit it was just a joke.
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James Hirsen is a media analyst, Trinity Law School professor and teacher of mass media law at Biola University.
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