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The 'anti-Trump' Oscars were a ratings disaster, and conservatives are delighted

Jimmy Kimmel hosts the 90th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, March 4, 2018. (Patrick T. Fallon/The New York Times/Copyright 2018/New York Times)

The 90th Academy Awards show was two things: an evening of pointed political statements and a telecast with record-low Oscars viewership.

And many on the right have been quick to claim that those things went hand in hand, though the critic-in-chief blamed a lack of star power.

"Sad," tweeted the conservative actor James Woods. "How can Hollywood stop itself from alienating its audience?"

"The American people are no longer interested in Hollywood pontificating about their liberal politics," pro-Trump radio host Bill Mitchell said.

The dismal ratings for the ABC broadcast were a hot topic on Fox News, discussed at the top of the hour on Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity's evening shows Monday, and again on Tuesday's edition of "Fox & Friends."

"It's too bad," morning host Steve Doocy said. (He didn't seem to mean it.)

A headline on the Daily Caller's website read, "The Ratings For Jimmy Kimmel's Trump Hate-Fest Oscars Crater Towards All-Time Low."

John Nolte of Breitbart News said the "writing was on the wall for this ratings catastrophe," calling Kimmel, this year's host, one of the most "divisive and polarizing figures in the country" and a "Trump-hating Democrat."

"On top of insulting Trump voters, this Oscar telecast also promised to be a lecture in favor of gun control (by elitists protected by hundreds of armed guards) and against sexual harassment (by elitists who are either harassers or enablers)," Nolte wrote. "As the early ratings show, even Democrats were not interested in watching that kind of self-serving hypocrisy."

President Donald Trump suggested on Twitter that a lack of star power (and, perhaps, not enough Trump) may be to blame for the disastrous ratings:

"Lowest rated Oscars in HISTORY. Problem is, we don't have Stars anymore - except your President (just kidding, of course)!"

Just 26.5 million people tuned in for Hollywood's biggest night, a 20 percent drop from the 33 million who watched the 2017 awards show, which was also hosted by Kimmel, Nielsen officials told the Associated Press.

"OSCAR CRASHES TO LOWEST VIEWERSHIP IN HISTORY," the Drudge Report's top headline screamed Monday evening.

Laura Ingraham called it "a watershed moment in Hollywood," and asked rhetorically: "Do you think the political smack-talk from celebrities had anything to do with that?"

Ratings are down for most big-event telecasts, including awards shows, and Oscars viewership is often the result of how well best picture nominees score at the box office (the winner, "The Shape of Water," grossed just $57.4 million in the United States).

But as with the NFL's ratings slide, some conservatives are blaming the low Oscars viewership on politics: the show's emphasis on the mistreatment of women in entertainment, for example, and the stars' jabs at Trump.

There was best actress winner Frances McDormand's speech on gender equality and respect for women, in which she asked all the female nominees in the audience to stand, and said, "We all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don't talk to us about it at the parties tonight; invite us into your office in a couple days."

There was the montage of women and minority filmmakers reflecting on diversity in film, which was introduced by three women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse: Salma Hayek Pinault, Annabella Sciorra and Ashley Judd.

And there were the sly and not-so-sly digs at the Trump administration and its policies.

"To all the dreamers out there, we stand with you," said presenter Kumail Nanjiani in a show of support for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. He was nominated for best original screenplay for "The Big Sick."

"Well, now at least we know Putin didn't rig this competition," Kimmel said after "Icarus," a film about institutionalized doping in Russian athletics and at the Olympics, won best documentary feature.

"We don't make movies like 'Call Me by Your Name' for money. ... We make them to upset (Vice President) Mike Pence," Kimmel also said, referring to the same-sex romance film nominated for best picture.

Fox's Tomi Lahren called the Oscars "sad" and dedicated to "self-obsession and blatant hypocrisy."

"Gauging by the low ratings, it would appear that many of you had better things to do than watch. And I don't blame you," she said. "After all, why waste brain cells watching Jimmy Kimmel and friends celebrate themselves and their liberalism? No, thanks."

Other conservatives didn't bother taking shots at the ratings but took issue with the political slant of the awards show.

Meghan McCain, the conservative daughter of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and a co-host of "The View," said on Monday's episode that the awards show "feels very anti-Trump and very anti-Republican."

"It would just be nice if we could just take a beat on politics ... it's so much all the time," she said.

Brian S. Brown, president of the socially conservative National Organization for Marriage, called the Oscars a "bizarre presentation" that made "people who buy movie tickets and finance the lavish lifestyles of the left's rich and pampered" feel marginalized.

McDormand, he said, rambled "incoherently" and looked "homeless."

"Then, at what could still have been a moment with some drama, instead of calling on the women to keep the #MeToo movement going, McDormand said that women need their projects to be financed. Huh? This of course was touted by the left as an amazing moment," Brown said in a statement, referring to the movement in which millions have shared stories of sexual harassment and abuse with the hashtag #MeToo.

Lila Rose, the founder and president of the antiabortion group Live Action, took to Twitter to condemn how Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, was honored on stage during a performance of "Stand Up for Something," from the film "Marshall," which was nominated for best original song.

"She has presided over the deaths of 3.8 million children. Thousands were old enough to survive outside the womb. All were precious," she wrote. "Such an incredible, brutal shame."

Author Information: Marwa Eltagouri is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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