POTUS has picked another fight on Twitter.
In the June 19 episode of The Hollywood Reporter's "Awards Chatter" podcast, Jimmy Fallon got emotional as he reflected on tussling President Donald Trump's hair on the Sept. 15, 2016, episode of NBC's The Tonight Show; the incident occurred after Trump had been named the Republican presidential nominee and two months before he was elected into office. At the time, Fallon was given permission to "mess up" Trump's hair, which had been viewed as an oddity.
In hindsight, Fallon said, "I did not do it to 'normalize' him or to say I believe in his political beliefs or any of that stuff." According to the host, the criticism he faced afterward "just got bigger and out of control. I saw other comedians from other shows making fun of me on Twitter and I go, 'OK, now I'm just gonna get off.' They know the show. I'm just doing five hours a week. I get in at 10 in the morning, I work 'til seven at night and I'm just trying to make a funny show."
Addressing his critics directly, Fallon said, "You know the grind and you know me. Of all the people in the world, I'm one of the good people. I mean, really. You don't even know what you're talking about if you say that I'm evil or whatever." Critics continued to pile on, Fallon recalled. "Some people don't even want to hear anything else. They're like, 'No, you did that!' You go, 'Well, just calm down. Just look at the whole thing and just actually see my body of work.'"
Getting choked up, Fallon admitted, "It was definitely a down time. And it's tough for morale. There's 300 people that work here, and so when people are talking that bad about you and ganging up on you, in a really gang-mentality...you go, 'All right, we get it. I heard you. You made me feel bad. So now what? Are you happy? I'm depressed. Do you want to push me more? What do you want me to do? You want me to kill myself? What would make you happy?' Get over it." The host again apologized for his exchange with Trump, saying, "I don't want to make anyone angry; I never do and I never will. It's all in the fun of the show. I made a mistake."
"I'm sorry if I made anyone mad," he added. "And, looking back, I would do it differently."
(Making matters worse: After the episode aired, The Tonight Show's ratings also dipped.)
Trump got wind of Fallon's "Awards Chatter" interview June 24. In response, he tweeted, ".@jimmyfallon is now whimpering to all that he did the famous 'hair show' with me (where he seriously messed up my hair), & that he would have now done it differently because it is said to have 'humanized' me-he is taking heat. He called & said 'monster ratings.' Be a man Jimmy!"
But Fallon, who has played Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on Saturday Night Live, didn't take the bait. Instead, he tweeted, "In honor of the President's tweet I'll be making a donation to RAICES in his name." Fallon did not disclose how much money will give to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, a Texas-based non-profit designed to help immigrants and their children, largely through free or low-cost legal services. The TV host, presumably, will also address Trump's tweet when his show returns tonight at 11:35 on NBC, featuring four celebrity guests: Armie Hammer, Rupi Kaur, Bebe Rexha and Meghan Trainor.
(E! and NBC are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)