Jay Leno was on the receiving end of some backlash on Wednesday after he claimed that current late-night hosts are being too partisan in their political commentary. Leno, the former host of The Tonight Show, made these comments during an interview on The Today Show. Leno was asked whether he missed the hosting gig.
“No, it’s different. I don’t miss it. You know, everything now is, if people don’t like your politics, they — everyone has to know your politics,” Leno said.
He went on to claim that when he hosted The Tonight Show, no one knew which political party he favored — because he made fun of both sides. Leno also said that he got “hate mail from both sides equally.”
The veteran comedian’s name started trending on Twitter on Tuesday as people voiced their opinions on his statements. Many of them slammed him for being out of touch with the current political reality in the United States.
“Can we sentence Jay Leno to forty-seven months of shut the f**k up,” wrote Twitter user and political commentator Bill Palmer.
Others pointed out that Leno used to milk current events for his comedy as well. For example, during the OJ Simpson murder trial, The Tonight Show ran a recurring bit featuring performers who impersonated prosecutor Marcia Clark and Judge Lance Ito. As Complex Magazine notes, the judge’s impersonators were called The Dancing Itos.
“He exploited the brutal double murder of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman as joke material,” wrote Twitter user Nolan Zugernat. “Every. Night. Of. The. Trial.”
Other tweets discussed the Conan O’Brien/Jay Leno Tonight Show debacle, one wherein Leno took his old job back after retiring from hosting duties and making way for O’Brien.
“Jay Leno is a thief and a liar,” wrote Twitter user Kevin Nolan in reply to a tweet about Leno’s recent comments. “Conan O’Brien should’ve held on to that spot as promised by NBC. I’m still bitter after all these years.”
Leno’s statements about the current state of late-night television did find favor with one person, President Donald Trump. The president quoted a report about Leno’s words, and added that current hosts spout “one-sided hatred” and were “unwatchable.” Based on the tweet, it seems that he first heard about Leno’s indictment of late-night hosts on Fox and Friends.
“Jay Leno points out that comedy (on the very boring late night shows) is totally one-sided. It’s tough when there’s only one topic.” @foxandfriends Actually, the one-sided hatred on these shows is incredible and for me, unwatchable. But remember, WE are number one - President!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2019
Comedians who currently host late-night shows, like Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon, haven’t commented on the story just yet. However, it may be ripe material for their upcoming opening monologues.