Why Fallon’s Softball Interview With Trump Matters

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Since his interview with Donald Trump, late night TV host Jimmy Fallon has received more than a little flack for going easy on the Republican nominee. Fallon, known for his quirky interviews and funny games on The Tonight Show ruffled a few feathers when he ruffled Trump’s famous locks.

Fallon interviewed Hillary Clinton the following day and he was just as light with the questioning. Like Trump, Clinton used the interview to promote her platform — that is why presidential candidates do talk shows, after all. But Clinton also jokingly addressed Fallon’s lack of toughness, poking fun at him for being a “softball.”

Even singer Miley Cyrus hopped on the dissent bandwagon. While she was performing Bob Marley’s “Baby, I’m in the Mood for You” with The Roots, she criticized Fallon’s time with Trump.

“There is nowhere that I would rather be than right here in New York City playing this song with The Roots, and being here on Jimmy Fallon,” Cyrus said. “Let’s all give it up for our host, who is always so much fun, unless you’re Donald Trump. And then don’t even think about messing with my hair, I’m serious.”

Fallon has made some rather hilarious political burns before, so the question is: Why doesn’t he vet political candidates harder?

Late night TV hosts are in a unique position to influence pop culture and determine what is acceptable. Although they’re in a different genre of TV, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and John Stewart are all wonderful examples of thoughtful yet funny political commentary.

They press hard to make their point. Fallon doesn’t.

Fellow NBC host Seth Meyers did the exact opposite of what Fallon did. He held Trump accountable for the birther movement, which he lied about pushing the same day as the Fallon interview.

Comedian Samantha Bee openly discussed the Fallon interview on her show Full Frontal.

“Network execs and a lot of their audience can ignore how very dangerous Trump is because to them, he isn’t,” Bee said during her show. “They’re not going to be deported. They’re not going to live under a president who thinks of them as a collection of sex toys. They’re not racist, they just don’t mind if other people are. Which is just as bad.”

Yes, we love Fallon’s trademark lip sync battles and generally lighthearted show.

But there’s a time and place for it. Sure, Fallon is no journalist, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t responsible for helping to normalize Trump’s blatant racism and lies.

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