Why Jimmy Fallon is Still Being Punished for Donald Trump Interview




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To that list of things that Hillary Clinton cites as responsible for her election another selection can be added: Jimmy Fallon.


The Tonight Show host, who has long worked on his image of being affable and even-handed, finds himself in a curious position of being the target of scorn. The curiosity here is the reason for the negative blowback is that very same neutral and friendly nature. It turns out that Fallon is being derided, and some fans are willing to forego watching his show, because he did not attack a guest.

That guest was Donald Trump.

Going back to last September then Republican nominee Trump sat with Fallon for a very innocuous interview, one that wrapped up with Fallon tousling the candidates infamous coiff. There was nothing objectionable you could take away from the session – barely any content of note, actually. In the days following the internet exploded in outrage and disgust, as many on the left bellowed that Fallon had committed the worst sin of all — he was polite to Trump!

In a recent interview with the New York Times you get the distinct feeling of the comedy host being called to the carpet, and his being permitted the chance to express any regrets. “Mr. Fallon acknowledges now that the Trump interview was a setback”, says the Paper Of Record, setting the table for the proper mea culpa.

They have a right to be mad,” a chastened Mr. Fallon said in an interview this month. “If I let anyone down, it hurt my feelings that they didn’t like it. I got it.”

Fallon took over the hosting of the show four years ago. In that time he has enjoyed having the highest rated talk show, frequently with a large cushion over his nearest rival, Stephen Colbert.


However, since the interview, Fallon’s numbers began to ebb, and Colbert — who had struggled to earn back the ratings from David Letterman’s departure — started to enjoy a growth in viewership. It was this past February when Colbert began to pull even with Fallon, and he currently is consistently leading in the ratings. (Fallon still enjoys an edge in the core advertising demographic.)


(chart via TVbythenumbers.com)


The Times makes a point to admonish the host for his transgression, taking the tone of a crusty college Dean trying to straighten out a truant:

He is weathering the most tumultuous period in his tenure there — a predicament for which he has himself to thank, and one that raises the question of whether the multitalented but apolitical Mr. Fallon can ride out the current era of politicized, choose-your-side entertainment, when he just wants to have a good time.

What was heard in the weeks following the interview, and up until today, is the farcical charge that Jimmy Fallon “Normalized” Donald Trump. It has become a knee-jerk talking point with the left. Do a search on Google or Twitter, of “Fallon + normalized + Trump”, and you get a deluge of people all repeating the same wan accusation. The problem is the emotional bleating is muted with the barest application of common sense.

Trump’s visit on “The Tonight Show” was but a brief exchange taking place well after your local newscast. The helium light interview was seen in the area of 3 million viewers (Fallon’s audience average at the time.) May I suggest something else that may have “normalized” the candidate? How about his appearing in “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice”, which were broadcast in primetime, for an hour — FOR FOURTEEN SEASONS! I’m going to be bold and declare that had a slightly bigger impact, rather than a single 6 minute interview near midnight.


The biggest prevarication in all of this is with any member of the media that has the temerity to lambaste Fallon for supposedly burnishing Trump’s image. Recall before the GOP primary how the press could not get enough of Donald. He was a regular on the news nets and pundit shows, receiving what was estimated to be upwards of $2 billion in free media exposure.

That is the biggest reason of all that Fallon has absorbed these cultural arrows. The media, once they realized the monster they created broke free, and after months of spin he began to take hold with the public, would never take the responsibility. As soon as the talk host dared play polite with the hated candidate the press pounced; They had their scape goat.

Eight months later Jimmy Fallon is still absorbing his punishment, for the sins of the media.


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