A closer look — or even a cursory one — at Leno's quote reveals he was not defending the President, but quite the opposite.
"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." @foxandfriends Actually, the one-sided hatred on these shows is incredible and for me, unwatchable. But remember, WE are number one - President!" the POTUS tweeted.
Naturally there followed a wave of online bile aimed at the former "Tonight Show" host, slamming him for siding with Trump, and digging up all the old late night gags he made which are now deemed offensive.
However a closer look — or even a cursory one — at Leno's quotes reveal he was not defending the President, but quite the opposite, pointing out his behavior is so outrageous that the current hosts have no choice but to focus on it.
“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.” @foxandfriends Actually, the one-sided hatred on these shows is incredible and for me, unwatchable. But remember, WE are number one - President!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2019
He even took pity on his successors, claiming gags were much more difficult to come up with when real life trumps satire in terms of incredulousness.
When asked by "Today" host Al Roker if he missed being on late night TV, he replied: "No, it’s different. I don’t miss it. You know, everything now is, if people don’t like your politics, they — everyone has to know your politics."
"I kind of used Johnny [Carson]'s model. People couldn’t figure out. 'Well, you and your Republican friends' or 'Well, Mr. Leno, you and your Democratic buddies.' And I would get hate mail from both sides equally. Well that's fabulous! That's exactly what I want."
He added: "But when people see you as one-sided, it just makes it tough."
Leno, who retired from the show five years ago, admitted: "Plus, I did it when, you know, Clinton was horny and [George W.] Bush was dumb, and it was just a little easier."
"Now it’s all very serious," he said. "I’d just like to see a bit of civility come back to it, you know?"
"People say, 'Oh, it must be easy to do jokes with Trump.' No, it’s 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?"
He also pointed out that, just like when he switched targets from Clinton to Bush, the pendulum will definitely swing back the other way.
"The theory when we did the show was, you just watch the news, we'll make fun of the news, and get your mind off the news," he said. "But now people wanna be on the news all the time."
"You just have one subject, it's the same topic every night which makes it very hard. I mean all the comics, Jimmy and Colbert and everybody else, its tough when that's the only topic up there."
Nevertheless, when Trump tweeted he agreed with Leno on the onesided-ness, the floodgates opened:
Jay Leno is the garbage human being who gave us the Dancing Itos.— Nolan Zugernat (@NolanZugernat) March 13, 2019
He exploited the brutal double murder of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman as joke material.
Every. Night. Of. The. Trial.
Jay Leno has zero business opening his mouth about ANYTHING. pic.twitter.com/YzgXgkDX8q
When Jay Leno is trending pic.twitter.com/W3Oirds9tG— caitlin (@YupItsCaitlin) March 13, 2019
In keeping with his habit of appointing people to run federal departments based on the primary qualification of a willingness to destroy them, Donald Trump now quotes Jay Leno as as expert in comedy. https://t.co/WyvoL3KkRJ— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) March 13, 2019
Jay Leno has not been funny since the 80s, and why do we need right-wing, Trump-supporting late night hosts when entertainers like Jacob Wohl, Charlie Kirk, and Tomi Lahren make us laugh on Twitter?— The Valkyrie Resists 🇺🇸🏳️🌈🎵🌌 (@ParmesanPinot) March 13, 2019
Jay Leno got fired from late night because he didn’t get the ratings.— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) March 13, 2019
Fallon, Kimmel, and Colbert do.
Can we sentence Jay Leno to forty-seven months of shut the fuck up— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) March 13, 2019
Jay Leno was trending -I thought it was because he finally said something that was funny. I was wrong.— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) March 13, 2019
Jay Leno was the raisins in the potato salad of late night talk show hosts and an ant compared to his predecessor Johnny Carson.— Exavier Pope (@exavierpope) March 13, 2019
Leno was as funny as a bowl of room temperature vegetable broth. https://t.co/G2fx7c8QYm
When I saw Jay Leno trending I was hoping he had died.— BobbySXSW (@RobertSegovias) March 13, 2019
Live shot of those upset about Jay Leno pointing out that late night comedy is hot garbage (which it is) now searching for a Leno joke from 1993 that offends them so they can post it on social media pic.twitter.com/FnXZthHr4V— FatherofThree (@whiter069) March 13, 2019