Trump attacks Jimmy Fallon in Twitter rant

President Donald Trump attacked late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon after the comedian told The Hollywood Reporter he expressed regret about tussling Trump's hair in a pre-election interview.

Posted: Jun 25, 2018 5:32 PM
Updated: Jun 25, 2018 5:32 PM

Late-night comics like Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Maher have all generated controversy, to varying degrees, by being blunt and outspoken about the Trump administration.

Jimmy Fallon -- who has largely sought to stay out of that fray -- has discovered that in the current climate, there's a price to be paid for comedic timidity as well.

"The Tonight Show" host became the unlikely target of a presidential tweet on Sunday, when President Trump -- apparently responding to delayed coverage of a Fallon interview conducted by the Hollywood Reporter -- said that the host is "now whimpering" about the criticism he received for tousling then-candidate Donald Trump's hair during a September 2016 appearance.

For Fallon, becoming the target of the president's ire feels a bit like adding insult to injury, to the extent that unlike his late-night rivals, he has fastidiously sought to continue making a light, funny show, and in the process, seen his claim to ratings supremacy dramatically diminished.

Since Trump's inauguration, "The Tonight Show" has gone from the clear leader to trailing "Late Show With Stephen Colbert" by a wide margin in total viewers -- 3.8 million to 2.7 million, according Nielsen data, for the September-through-May TV season. Because Fallon appeals to an audience that's likely somewhat less attuned to politics, he has maintained an edge in the young-adult demographics used primarily to negotiate ad buys, but even that gap has significantly narrowed.

The shift reflects a surge on Colbert's part, and a corresponding decline for NBC. While Fallon has sought to stay within his comfort zone, his approach at times has looked out of step with the prevailing tides.

Although he expressed regret over how he handled the 2016 Trump interview, Fallon summed up the difficult position he's in by saying, "I don't want to make anyone angry -- I never do and I never will. It's all in the fun of the show. I made a mistake. I'm sorry if I made anyone mad."

Fallon also told THR that "I'm one of the good people," asking those criticizing him to look at the totality of his body of work.

From the beginning, the host has resided squarely in a zone of neutrality and providing a safe venue for his guests -- one where they feel able to participate in silly games and playful stunts that portray their lighter side. The way he dealt with Trump -- or for that matter, other politicians who have come on "Tonight" during his tenure -- was no different.

Those who applaud Fallon's vanilla-flavored posture can point to a long history of evenhandedness on the part of "Tonight Show" hosts, where Johnny Carson and Jay Leno both studiously sought to dispense political humor across the spectrum in equal measure.

Still, in a June 2016 interview with CNN before the Trump-Fallon controversy, Leno conceded that he would have found it difficult adhering to that ideal in the current political climate, citing issues like gay rights and school shootings.

Leno said the bitter nature of the partisan divide "has a debilitating effect," and that while he would be courteous to Trump as a guest, "I couldn't see myself being overly gracious." Overall, he noted that times were simpler when he was the host, adding, "I'm glad I'm out of that business right now."

Fallon is still in that business, trying to follow the playbook that made the early years of his "Tonight Show" run a smashing success. That strategy, however, clearly faces a new set of challenges.

Despite the legacy to which Fallon aspires, times have changed. And even being one of "the good people" offers no immunity from the pressure to take a stand.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1000163

Reported Deaths: 16309
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1347632106
Lake660041156
Allen57441793
Hamilton46100461
St. Joseph44109607
Elkhart35696507
Vanderburgh32087477
Tippecanoe27796257
Johnson24902443
Hendricks23738354
Porter22802362
Madison18614404
Clark18424250
Vigo17347301
Monroe15180197
LaPorte15046250
Delaware14984259
Howard14626287
Kosciusko12217147
Hancock11630175
Bartholomew11505179
Warrick11255189
Floyd11013214
Wayne10897250
Grant9964218
Morgan9404176
Boone8863116
Dubois8227130
Dearborn817093
Henry8139151
Noble7984106
Marshall7838134
Cass7499119
Lawrence7403170
Shelby7138114
Jackson694088
Gibson6533113
Harrison644491
Huntington633999
Knox6273106
DeKalb626397
Montgomery6208109
Miami589797
Putnam575377
Clinton570271
Whitley560455
Steuben554675
Wabash5279101
Jasper524475
Jefferson506996
Ripley495685
Adams476073
Daviess4616113
Scott435869
Greene422096
Wells420987
Clay420260
White415962
Decatur4133101
Fayette404286
Jennings385160
Posey375343
LaGrange353978
Washington353249
Randolph341999
Spencer337342
Fountain332558
Sullivan326752
Starke313369
Owen312070
Fulton306567
Orange291762
Jay280445
Perry264752
Franklin264042
Carroll259132
Rush258832
Vermillion255454
Parke230026
Pike227943
Tipton226659
Blackford190540
Pulaski181855
Crawford158623
Newton156048
Benton150217
Brown144547
Martin137419
Switzerland134211
Warren120516
Union106815
Ohio84112
Unassigned0538

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1499485

Reported Deaths: 23327
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1626291662
Cuyahoga1447662412
Hamilton1044761409
Montgomery731681240
Summit610421094
Lucas55643904
Butler51076707
Stark459431053
Lorain35141568
Warren32476369
Mahoning30315672
Clermont27930321
Lake26669434
Delaware23960162
Licking23547283
Trumbull22550552
Fairfield22179241
Greene22098311
Medina21763305
Clark19630349
Richland18342280
Portage17696247
Wood17244220
Allen15730269
Miami15355296
Muskingum14551174
Columbiana13756263
Wayne13585263
Tuscarawas12479298
Marion11797175
Scioto11388154
Pickaway11286141
Erie10676180
Ross10462196
Lawrence9663137
Hancock9546149
Ashtabula9479197
Belmont9133197
Geauga8829157
Jefferson8481191
Huron8229139
Union810756
Washington8031137
Sandusky7724145
Athens769572
Knox7606138
Darke7553151
Seneca7208144
Ashland6817125
Auglaize667896
Shelby6410111
Brown628582
Crawford6184130
Defiance6087102
Mercer608293
Fulton592996
Highland590099
Madison587576
Clinton576190
Logan574692
Guernsey572467
Preble5660121
Putnam5250108
Williams520184
Perry512561
Champaign505071
Jackson498770
Ottawa479086
Coshocton471582
Morrow451256
Pike430762
Fayette422160
Adams411587
Gallia411265
Hardin411076
Van Wert364078
Henry357871
Holmes3567122
Hocking352578
Wyandot317961
Carroll297059
Paulding275945
Meigs259249
Monroe212953
Noble196546
Morgan190832
Harrison178242
Vinton162624
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 43°
Angola
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 46°
Huntington
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
Decatur
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 43°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 45°
The wonderful weather continues across the region Tuesday with our next chance of rain midweek.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events