Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Election daddy John King tells Jimmy Kimmel about finding joy in a week-long nightmare

Jimmy Kimmel, John King
Jimmy Kimmel, John King
Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live

Putting the democracy-damaging spectacle of a rashy toddler throwing a tantrum because it’s time to go home—and the attendant worries of a complicit Republican anti-democratic coup—aside, a weary nation is warily allowing itself to accept that the 2020 elections are over. (Oh wait, there are two absolutely vital Senate runoffs in Georgia coming up. Dammit!) Still, one of Americans’ great strengths is to focus on a few attention-grabbing sideshows in every political circus and, with Joe Biden firmly and irrevocably now our President-Elect, Jimmy Kimmel took the opportunity to have fun alongside one respected newsman whose stalwart efforts in front of an impressively interactive big screen TV held a captive nation in thrall over on CNN for the past week.

And, sure, CNN analyst John King is but one of the two men—dubbed “Chart-Throbs,” because, America—whose Tom-Cruise-in-Minority Report facility with precise, sweeping hand gestures kept a terrified nation trusting in the power of math. But while the younger Steve Kornacki might be the khaki-clad, rumpled gay boyfriend of the nation’s dreams, the suit-sporting, snow-topped, sonorous dad vibe of King is also roping in a significant demographic of frazzled election enthusiasts. Kimmel, greeting his guest remotely from his wonted stance in front of that red-and-blue hell-map we call a country, said it was oddly comforting to see King still hanging out alongside his digital sidekick, saying, “It’s like seeing Han Solo in front of the Millennium Falcon.” (Kimmel also compared the no-nonsense King to E.T., suggesting Kimmel has had a long week as well.)


But we kid the serious newsman (King hosts CNN’s Inside Politics when not authoritatively pointing at stuff), who presumably, like rival topography idol Kornacki, has been able to get some sleep since the election was called for Biden on Saturday morning. While joshing along with Kimmel (in that “No, but seriously” responsible journalist way), King gave some insight into just how important it was that he (and his magic index finger) pushed all the right buttons when it came to soberly, responsibly, and with agonizing deliberation, calling results in the most important and unique election of our lifetime. Saying of the dueling Election Week hashtags, King told Kimmel that neither “red mirage” nor “blue mirage” were a thing, explaining of the COVID-attenuated process, “It was not a mirage, it was real, but it wasn’t contextual.” Now, with the context of Donald Trump being the only impeached, one-term president who also lost the popular vote (twice) firmly etched into history (pathetic, flailing GOP legal shenanigans aside), King told Kimmel that he “got in trouble” for, at one point during the sweaty election edging, calling his job “fun.”

King explained that, as a guy yoked to that Big Board for the better part of a week, it was the math geek exhilaration of watching the country’s collective decision-making transform his interactive co-host from red to blue and back again that really got his broadcaster’s juices flowing. (Plus, hanging out with Wolf Blitzer. He’s only human, people.) And, again, while those of us who sat glued to our TVs, phones, computers, and other communication devices (King was baffled but proud that he has a TikTok fan club now), might start grinding our molars at the thought that someone was actually enjoying watching our nation’s soul spilled out across a Jumbotron as (5 million less than) half of voters fruitlessly but enthusiastically signed up for four more years of science denialism, overt criminality, bigotry, and anti-democratic authoritarianism, well, he’s just doing his job. Might as well love what you do.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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