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Trump attacks Jimmy Fallon on Twitter and tells him to “be a man”

The tweet follows Fallon’s apology about an interview with the president in 2016.

Jimmy Fallon interviews President Trump in 2015.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Li Zhou is a politics reporter at Vox, where she covers Congress and elections. Previously, she was a tech policy reporter at Politico and an editorial fellow at the Atlantic.

President Donald Trump told Jimmy Fallon to “be a man!” in a Twitter attack on the late-night host over the weekend — a post that offers some insight into Trump’s perspectives on masculinity.

To the president, being a man appears to mean never apologizing or reconsidering your actions.

Jimmy Fallon “is now whimpering to all that he did the famous ‘hair show’ with me ... [and] that he would have done it differently because it is said to have ‘humanized’ me,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “Be a man Jimmy!”

Last week, in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Fallon got choked up and expressed regret for how he handled an interview with the then-presidential candidate in the fall of 2016.

As part of that now-infamous interview, Fallon lobbed Trump a series of softball questions and perhaps most memorably, playfully tousled his hair. In that conversation, the affable late-night personality appeared to treat the presidential candidate — who was known for expressing xenophobic and misogynistic views — as just another guest.

The backlash was swift.

Viewers criticized Fallon for “normalizing” Trump and acting like the interview was simply business as usual.

“I did not do it to ‘normalize’ him or to say I believe in his political beliefs or any of that stuff,” Fallon told THR. “Of all the people in the world, I’m one of the good people — I mean, really. You don’t even know what you’re talking about if you say that I’m evil or whatever. But people just jump on the train, and some people don’t even want to hear anything else.”

Fallon has been known for crafting buzzy and entertaining segments with different celebrities and politicians — developing a segment called “Slow Jam The News” that featured former President Barack Obama and even doing a sketch where he played Trump on a phone call with Hillary Clinton. In the past two years, his cultural cache has taken a hit as ratings have fallen.

”I’m sorry. I don’t want to make anyone angry — I never do and I never will. It’s all in the fun of the show. I made a mistake. I’m sorry if I made anyone mad,” he said in the THR interview. “And, looking back, I would do it differently.”

To Trump, being a man means never apologizing

In his response to Fallon’s recent comments, Trump appeared to hit at both the host’s sincerity (“He called & said ‘monster ratings.’”), while also making a jab at his masculinity (“Be a man Jimmy!”)

It’s the latest instance of Trump expressing what he thinks masculinity is: As both his tweets and actions suggest, “being a man,” to the president, means never apologizing or backing down.

It’s a tactic that Trump has repeatedly taken when he’s in hot water for controversial policy decisions and in his response to allegations of sexual misconduct. (Not only has Trump denied numerous accusations of harassment from more than 20 women, he’s demeaned the people who’ve made them.)

In response to Trump’s volley, Fallon said he would donate to RAICES, a nonprofit that provides legal services to immigrants who have been detained at the southern border. The organization has raised more than $18 million in the wake of the Trump administration’s implementation of a policy that separates families.