Fallon has mostly seemed annoyed by the criticism he’s taken for his unforgivably (if entirely in keeping with his vanilla brand) light interview with Donald Trump. At the Emmys, Fallon shrugged off the hate, saying, “Have you seen my show? I’m never too hard on anyone.” He’s not wrong!
Case in point: Hillary Clinton’s appearance on his show on Monday evening. There was some teasing going on, sure. In a bit that was more barbed than anything that happened during Trump’s appearance, Fallon handed Clinton a bag of items that Trump left behind: a bag of softballs (indicating that she would get the same treatment as her rival), a photo of Putin framed in a heart, and a CD of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Not the most inspired stuff in the world, sure, but if we’re grading Fallon on a curve, then he at least gets a sticker for feigning self-awareness.
Although Clinton ripped into Trump during her appearance, mostly she was on Fallon for the same reason Trump was: Both presidential candidates have what could be called a humanization problem, and Fallon’s late night show exists to humanize his guests. When asked if she dreamed of being president as a girl, Clinton said, “It wasn’t even within the realm of the possible for little girls back then. That’s what’s so exciting about this campaign.”
But the problem, of course, is that not everyone deserves to be humanized. While mostly inconsequential, Fallon’s show represents the media double standard that my colleague Brian Beutler has been writing about recently. Treating a flawed presidential candidate and a quasi-fascist in the same way benefits the quasi-fascist.
At least The Roots seem to get it. They mocked Trump by playing Erykah Badu’s “20 Feet Tall” when he walked out. Clinton came out to Ghostface Killah’s “Mighty Healthy.”