Last September, Jimmy Fallon came under extensive fire for being too friendly and not hard-hitting enough when then-presidential candidate Donald Trump was a guest on The Tonight Show — a controversy he never really addressed, despite massive backlash.
Now, in an interview with the New York Times, Fallon has finally opened up — at length — about that moment and its aftermath, which he describes as "devastating."
"I go, I just can't read Twitter. Then I can't read the news. I can't read the Internet," Fallon said, describing the snowball effect as the outrage picked up steam. "I'm a people-pleaser. If there's one bad thing on Twitter about me, it will make me upset. So, after this happened, I was devastated. I didn't mean anything by it. I was just trying to have fun."
Fallon has always been less political than his late night cohorts; Stephen Colbert, in particular, often devotes his monologues to eviscerating the current president. And while the Tonight Show host has clearly struggled with the question of how to entertain people in an increasingly polarized world — even admitting he regrets not addressing the controversy sooner — he seems to have made peace with it.
"I tossed and turned for a couple of weeks, but I have to make people laugh," he said. "People that voted for Trump watch my show as well."
The Tonight Show airs weeknights at 11:30pm ET on NBC.