President Trump cited Jay Leno in a tweet calling out late night television comedians for political bias. Leno responds.
Josmar Taveras, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump again called out late night television comedians for what he perceives as a bias against him in a tweet on Wednesday.
Citing comments from former NBC “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno – who said in an interview Tuesday that late night talk shows have become too political – Trump decried the “one-sided hatred” of late night television comedy.
Trump’s tweet opened with a quote about Leno’s comments, which he appeared to attribute to the morning news show “Fox & Friends.” The quote said, “‘Jay Leno points out that comedy (on the very boring late night shows) is totally one-sided. It’s tough when there’s only one topic.'”
“Actually, the one-sided hatred on these shows is incredible and for me, unwatchable. But remember, WE are number one – President!” Trump added.
During an appearance on NBC’s “Third Hour of Today” on Tuesday, Leno said he doesn’t miss hosting because now “it’s all very serious” and “everyone has to know your politics.”
In a reply to Trump’s tweet, NBC’s Al Roker clarified that Leno made the comments on “Today.”
In the interview, Leno said he’d “like to see a bit of civility come back.” He said he preferred the approach of his “Tonight Show” predecessor, Johnny Carson, where “people couldn’t figure out” whether he was a Democrat or a Republican because he mocked members of both parties.
“I used to get hate mail from both sides equally,” he said.
But Leno said Trump had changed the equation.
“I did it when, you know, Clinton was horny and Bush was dumb, and it was just a little easier,” he said.
But he said writing political jokes with Trump in the White House is “actually harder because the punch line of the joke used to be ‘That’s like the president with a porn star.’ Well, now the president is with a porn star. Where do you go with that? How do you get more outrageous than that?”
Trump often rails against his portrayal in the media generally, but Wednesday’s tweet was the latest example of Trump’s displeasure of how he is relentlessly mocked by television comedians in particular. In previous tweets, the president has called out late night comedies for being “always anti-Trump” and has speculated about the need for government action to ensure “equal time.”
“Saturday Night Live,” which regularly features actor Alec Baldwin doing an unflattering impersonation of Trump, has been the focus of Trump’s ire on more than one occasion. Trump once touted the show’s ratings from a November 2015 episode he hosted. But since then he’s tweeted at least seven times about how he can no longer watch the “not funny” and “biased” sketch comedy show.
Last month, the president was criticized for appearing to call for “retribution” against the show for its “Republican hit jobs.”
Comedy scorecard: Winners (Colbert), losers (Fallon) and in between in the Trump era
Trump has not always had kind things to say about Leno.
In August and September 2013, Trump posted several tweets attacking the outgoing talk show host.
“I’ve always defended @jayleno but he never defends me. He’s not a loyal person & I now understand why everybody dumped him. Jay sucks!” Trump said in one tweet.
In another tweet, Trump said “Leno and his people are constantly calling me to go on his show. My answer is always no because his show sucks. They love my ratings!”
But Leno was an early predictor of Trump’s political prospects, facetiously introducing him as the “next president of the United States” during a 1999 “Tonight Show” episode when Trump was considering a third-party run for president.
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