Why Doesn’t Jimmy Fallon Talk About Trump?

“It’s just not what I do.”

by Lisa Eppich

Jimmy Fallon has been criticized for his coverage—of lack thereof—of President Trump ever since he was just a candidate (remember those days?). People still aren't over the infamous interview where Fallon tussled Trump's hair and had a bland, banal conversation that completely glossed over the then-candidate's already numerous abuses and blatant racism. And since then, Fallon has largely been silent on politics in general. This is in stark contrast to the likes of Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel, who's biting commentary on everything from the healthcare debate to tax reform has been cathartic for many viewers, who need to find a way to laugh through the pain of it all. As Vulture reports, Fallon's silence is starting to hurt him: The Tonight Show continues to fall in ratings and is now in third place behind Colbert's The Late Show and Kimmel's Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Fallon has also fallen a total of 26 percentage points in ratings since this time last year, while the other two shows have remained relatively flat.

In an interview with Willie Geist on Sunday TodayFallon defended his lack of Trump coverage by saying both "that's just not what I do" and "I don’t really even, you know, care that much about politics — I’ve got to be honest. I love pop culture more than I love politics. I’m just not that brain, you know?" Unfortunately for Fallon, that's privilege in a nutshell. Only someone who doesn't have to deal with losing or not being able to afford healthcare, or being harassed by men, sexually or otherwise, or being fired from work or otherwise harassed for being gay or transgender, or is at risk for being racially profiled, hurt, or killed by the police—amongst other things—can afford to not care about politics. For the rest of us, every day is a struggle to preserve what peace and freedom we still have while fighting to regain what ground we've lost in the past nine months. 

That's not to say Kimmel and Colbert have been perfect, either. Most recently, Kimmel is being criticized for not speaking out against Harvey Weinstein. His defense is similar to Fallon's, telling 60 Minutes that Weinstein is "not a friend of mine,” and, “I'm not in the movie business." Earlier this year, Colbert was heavily criticized for a vulgar, homophobic sex joke he made about President Trump, which he refused to back down from. Still, Colbert and Kimmel, alongside Trevor Noah, James Cordon, and John Oliver have all shown how powerful their voices can be in the political realm, and the response in ratings and reviews from fans show that it's something they want from them. As for Fallon? His silence is proving deafening, and it remains to be seen if he'll tumble farther in the rating game as his nice-guy shtick seems to lose both its meaning and its luster.

Check out Fallon's Sunday Today interview below.

Editor's Note: The original post contained a misspelling and incorrect term. It has since been amended.