Jimmy Fallon regrets softball Trump interview

Jimmy Fallon says viewers “have a right to be mad” about a widely panned “Tonight Show” interview he did with Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP-Trump trade fight boils over with threat to cars Trump: Meetings on potential North Korea summit going 'very well' Freed American 'overwhelmed with gratitude' after being released from Venezuela MORE during the heat of the presidential election.

“If I let anyone down, it hurt my feelings that they didn’t like it. I got it,” Fallon tells The New York Times in his first extended interview about the Trump sit-down last September, in a story published Wednesday.

Critics lambasted Fallon for what they dubbed a softball interview with Trump, at the end of which Fallon playfully tousled the then-GOP presidential nominee’s oft-talked-about hair. It’s a move that the Times described as still “haunting” Fallon.

“I didn’t do it to humanize him,” Fallon says of the gesture. “I almost did it to minimize him. I didn’t think that would be a compliment: ‘He did the thing that we all wanted to do.’”


The NBC late-night host says the backlash for him on social media was brutal.

Describing himself as a “people pleaser,” Fallon explains, “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.”

The former “Saturday Night Live” star — whose late-night rival, CBS “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, has seen a surge in ratings in recent months as the host has taken an aggressive stance against Trump — says he’s disappointed he didn’t address the reaction to the interview with the now-president on his show.

“I didn’t talk about it, and I should have talked about it,” Fallon tells the Times. “I regret that.”

“I feel like it’s sailed,” he says of the missed opportunity, “I haven’t talked about it at all.”

But Fallon says viewers shouldn’t expect him to suddenly start throwing out biting political barbs on “The Tonight Show.”

“I tossed and turned for a couple of weeks, but I have to make people laugh.”

“People that voted for Trump watch my show as well,” says the 42-year-old comedian.

“There’s only so many bits you can do,” says Fallon. “I’m happy that only 50 percent of my monologue is about Trump.”