Jimmy Fallon's Private Apology To His Staff Seems To Focus On The Wrong Thing

Jimmy Fallon apologized to staff for the toxic workplace culture on The Tonight Show, but his apology doesn't seem quite right.

Jimmy Fallon Andrew Cline, DFree | Shutterstock, draganajokmanovic | Canva

A report published by Rolling Stone on September 7, 2023, alleged that the environment Jimmy Fallon fostered on the set of The Tonight Show has been unhealthy and toxic in ways that have directly affected employees’ mental health. 

Two current staffers and 14 former staffers maintained that Fallon continuously exhibits erratic behavior, creating a “pretty glum atmosphere.” According to a follow-up from unnamed employees, Fallon and showrunner Chris Miller held a Zoom call on September 7th, in which they addressed the allegations.


Jimmy Fallon offered a private apology to his staff, yet it seemed to focus on the wrong thing.

During the meeting, Fallon apologized, making the claim that he didn’t intend to “create that type of atmosphere for the show.” The employees report that Fallon’s apology hinged on how “bad” he felt and how “embarrassed” he was, making the central focus of the apology himself.

“It’s embarrassing and I feel so bad,” Fallon allegedly stated. “Sorry if I embarrassed you and your family and friends… I feel so bad I can’t even tell you.”

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Of course, only the employees involved in the meeting have a full understanding of what was addressed during it. It’s easy to pass judgment from the outside looking in, without knowing the nuanced intricacies of what’s going on in someone’s inner world.

It seems like Fallon focuses the apology on his own emotional reaction and not that of his staff.

One hopes that Fallon and his leadership team provide actionable responses to how his staff feels. That action, in part, might arise from focusing less on feeling ashamed of his behavior and more on how he can make his staff feel protected and safe in their workplace. 

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The feeling of shame is an inherently human one, but it’s not one we necessarily have to live with, nor is it one that fixes difficult situations. As noted by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute, shame can be defined as “a self-conscious emotion arising from the sense that something is fundamentally wrong about oneself.” Shame is often fueled by a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt.  

As the Institute explained, there are two identifiable types of shame. One type is “state shame,” which is “a momentary experience that occurs in response to an event. The other type is “trait shame,” which is more long-term and functions like a personality trait, something we carry with us.

A tool for combating shame is to identify and label it as an emotion, recognizing that it’s a distinct entity, caused by certain behavior. Practicing a level of self-compassion is another way to combat such a complex, human emotion.

Our actions might not always align with our internal sense of self, yet we can always strive for our actions to mirror our ideals.

The next steps that Fallon takes on set will show his commitment to making The Tonight Show into a more positive working environment. Feeling bad can be a motivator towards change. Hopefully, he’ll take time to truly listen to his staff, and put their needs first. 


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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.