Jimmy Fallon opened “The Tonight Show” on Monday night with a shout-out to the program’s “number one fan”: President Donald Trump.
“As you may have heard, last night, the president of the United States went after me on Twitter,” Fallon began. “So Melania, if you’re watching, I don’t think your anti-bullying campaign is working.”
Fallon said in his monologue that he had decided to not immediately tweet a response because “I have more important things to do.”
“Then I thought, ’Wait, shouldn’t he have more important things to do? He’s the president! What are you doing? ... Why are you tweeting at me?” the host asked.
Unlike some of his late-night counterparts, Fallon does not usually wade into the political thicket. But he took a stand on Monday night against Trump’s rebuke.
“First of all, I’ve never called this human in my life. I don’t have his number, I don’t want his number,” Fallon said during his show. “[And] I’ve never said ‘monster ratings.’ I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
“By the way, Donald, I don’t know if you’ve seen my ratings the past two years, but you didn’t help my ratings,” the host added.
Fallon told The Hollywood Reporter last week that he regretted his controversial 2016 interview with Trump. “I did not do it to ‘normalize’ him or to say I believe in his political beliefs or any of that stuff,” an emotional Fallon said, adding that he’d been deeply hurt and “depressed” by the intense backlash he faced following the interview.
At a rally in South Carolina on Monday, President Trump mentioned Fallon and the host’s “tremendous ratings” again.
“He looks like a lost soul,” Trump told the crowd, referring to Fallon, according to Variety. “But you know what he’s a nice guy. I agreed to do his show, and because I guess I was running at the time, he got tremendous ratings on that show. Killed everybody, right? He should be thankful. He shouldn’t be upset and angry.”
Fallon tweeted on Sunday that he’d made a donation to the refugee and immigration organization RAICES in the president’s name.
Referring to that gesture, Fallon quipped during his show: “When Trump heard, he was like, ‘I love RAICES. They’re my favorite peanut butter cup.’”