While Seth Meyers has not pulled any punches in his fitting takedowns of Donald Trump, his network, NBC, and his colleague on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon, has instead prioritized ratings, as Samantha Bee suggested in last night’s opening segment, explaining why NBC has been quick to cozy up to the very man they fired from their network for racist rhetoric.
“I guess because ratings matter more than brown people. Sure, he’s making life palpably dangerous for Muslims and immigrants, but hey, he’s good entertainment! Here’s a thought: when Holocaust survivors are telling you this guy gives me déjà vu, maybe don’t invite him up into your house to play with your adorable children.”
She also spoke specifically to Fallon’s decision to host Trump on The Tonight Show, and the danger that it presents.
“Aww, Trump can be a total sweetheart with someone who has no reason to be terrified of him. I notice there were no cutaway shots to The Roots. I wonder why.”
“Network execs and a lot of their audience can ignore how very dangerous Trump is, because to them, he isn’t. They’re not gonna be deported. They’re not gonna 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.”
Last week, when we decided to protest Fallon’s decision to have Trump on his show, many on Twitter and in our comments section took issue, saying that Fallon is not a journalist and therefore has no obligation to ask tough questions.
This is not about the questions that Fallon asked. Fallon is not a journalist, and no one would expect him to be tough on Trump. Granted, Letterman would have obliterated Trump, but this is not about how Fallon treated Trump, this is about having him on the show in the first place. This is about making Trump palatable to the masses.
The week after Michael Richards had his racist meltdown, Fallon wouldn’t have had him on the show and playfully tousled his hair. He wouldn’t have had Mel Gibson on the day after his racist meltdown (pick one) and asked him wistfully about his childhood home. I’d like to think that Jimmy Fallon wouldn’t have any racist on his show, because Fallon’s inability to ask tough questions means only that he’s giving viewers at home a chance to say, “Oh, this guy isn’t so bad! He seems nice. What a good sense of humor he has about himself! He’s letting Fallon tousle his wig.”
This is not about being objective or impartial or staying out of politics. This is about humanizing a real-life villain. Faced with a real-life drug dealer, you either confront him about why he sells drugs to kids, or you run away from him. What you don’t do is give the man a balloon and send him into a school yard.