The Jimmy Fallon-Donald Trump interview last week on an episode of The Tonight Show left many in the anti-Trump crowd bristling.
The idea this fun-loving, late-night funny man would bring on a candidate the left has characterized as xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, and racist and, instead of ripping him to shreds, mess up his hair is appalling, or so their thinking goes.
No, that didn’t happen. Yes, the Jimmy Fallon-Donald Trump interview was a puff piece designed more for laughs and ratings than political levity. But that’s exactly what it should have been, and if you were one of the weasels on social media or this particular weasel at the Huffington Post crying about how Fallon wimped out, then congratulations: You are everything wrong with America today.
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) September 18, 2016
To add weight to that statement, it is important to deconstruct what everyone is so mad about.
They are mad because they agree with Hillary Clinton’s assessment that half of all Trump supporters are a “basket of deplorables.” They are mad because they take a headline approach to unpacking Trump’s views instead of digging down into the meat of what he says. They are mad because they’ve convinced themselves all the previous descriptors of Trump are true but are unable to convince half the country the same is not true of their own candidate.
Therefore, they feel the need to task everyone — their social circles, people on the street, and, yes, even comedians — with verifying their truth.
That’s why the news media today can largely not be trusted to report actual facts without some kind of ideological bent. They realize that to attract and retain an audience, truth cannot get in the way. It has to have a political hue colored in the tint of their target audience. So instead of Cronkite, you get Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN.
Call it journalism evolving. Say that journalism is dead. The bottom line is journalism got where it is today because people don’t want to be swayed anymore. They have their predeterminations of right and wrong, and they will seek out the media sources that verify those predeterminations.
The Jimmy Fallon-Donald Trump interview flew in the face of this and instead committed to being a comedy bit in its purest form — the way The Tonight Show and other late-night talk shows have been doing for decades.
Fallon, by doing something as silly as messing up Trump’s hair, was making an important statement about where society is and where it needs to be.
Political discourse is on life support. Liberals hate conservatives and vice versa. They aren’t willing to compromise anymore, and that’s precisely why the president and Congress don’t want to either.
By demanding anything else from the Jimmy Fallon-Donald Trump interview than a comedian plying his trade, you’re saying you think comedians have a responsibility to be journalists.
But pump the brakes there a moment, because if that were the case, you might just find that comedians aren’t ready to jump on your side. While few of the good ones like Trump, they appreciate the presentation, and many are in agreement that lies aside, he is more genuine than Hillary Clinton.
Just listen to Bill Burr, Joe Rogan, Adam Carolla, and a litany of other comics. Even when there is support for HRC, there is a realization and admission that she has her problems and that she’s a liar in almost every sense of the word. Burr called her “the Devil,” Rogan waxed eloquent for three hours with Gary Johnson on the lack of genuineness from both candidates, and Carolla has on multiple occasions accused her of being outright “full of s**t.”
— Deadline Hollywood (@Deadline) September 16, 2016
And again, in none of these three examples are there Trump supporters. All three men share a more libertarian bent. Burr has even said he’s okay with Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem before football games, and “who are you to judge his life experience?”
Sure, Hillary still has Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and Bill Maher, but these are openly partisan guys, who at this point are simply preaching to their choir. They’re not converting any in the right or the middle camps of the U.S.
The bottom line is this: The Jimmy Fallon-Donald Trump interview was more of what America needs. People doing what they do without reservations of how they will be perceived. Fallon knew he would take heat. Trump knew his hair would make for some ridiculous screencap memes. They did it anyway because they were there to show a different side of themselves.
Fallon, in particular, deserves credit here because he reaches a wider audience than Trump and was willing to alienate some of them because he, like most Americans, realized why he’s there: not to be a journalist but to do his job — make people laugh.
For the most part, he succeeded because he was brave enough to take a stand and say to the American public, “I am not going to allow you to hold me to a higher standard than you hold your own press.”
But what do you think, readers?
Was the Jimmy Fallon Donald Trump interview a travesty or exactly what it needed to be? Sound off in the comments section.
[Featured Image by Evan Agostini/AP Images]