“The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon finally caved to liberal Hollywood's evisceration over his light-hearted treatment of President Donald Trump during an interview in September.
As Trump sat with Fallon on the NBC show, the host playfully ruffled Trump's hair and joked around with him instead of discussing politics and the election.
After facing repeated outrage from critics for not going after Trump, Fallon sat down with The New York Times for an interview, which was posted Wednesday, to clear up his position some nine months after having Trump on the show.
“They have a right to be mad,” Fallon said, referring to critics and fans who thought his treatment of Trump was inappropriate. “If I let anyone down, it hurt my feelings that they didn’t like it. I got it.”
Acknowledging that his Trump feature was a "setback," Fallon said that he refuses to allow dissenters to mar the name of his comedy.
“I don’t want to be bullied into not being me, and not doing what I think is funny,” he said. “Just because some people bash me on Twitter, it’s not going to change my humor or my show.”
Fallon said that he wasn't trying to endear Trump to undecided voters across the United States when he engaged in easy banter with him.
“I didn’t do it to humanize him,” Fallon said. “I almost did it to minimize him. I didn’t think that would be a compliment: ‘He did the thing that we all wanted to do.’”
The comedian noted that public blowback against his Trump interview was swift and intense.
“I go, 'I just can’t read Twitter,'" he said, recalling the fallout. "Then 'I can’t read the news.' 'I can’t read the internet.'”
Noting that he's a "people-pleaser," Fallon said, “If there’s one bad thing on Twitter about me, it will make me upset. So, after this happened, I was devastated. I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just trying to have fun.”
Despite the Trump interview being critically panned, Fallon admitted he'd made a mistake by not addressing the criticism earlier and explained that the time to make a statement to his fans, or to explain his motivations, has come and gone.
“I feel like it’s sailed,” he said. “I haven’t talked about it at all.”
Fallon admitted that he's finally over the Trump criticism, despite having "tossed and turned" over it on a nightly basis.
“I have to make people laugh,” he said. “People that voted for Trump watch my show as well.”
Fallon addressed late-night hosts' obsession with Trump at large, but insisted that he was going to remain true to himself and his brand.
“There’s only so many bits you can do,” he said about sketches mocking Trump. “I’m happy that only 50 percent of my monologue is about Trump.”