A brief history of late-night hosts apologizing

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NEW YORK, NY – MAY 07: Comedians Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon attend the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Huffington Post)

Samantha Bee’s recent apology is only one in the grand tradition of late-night hosts apologizing for everything from a Mister Rogers parody to cheating.

In 1984, legendary Tonight Show host Johnny Carson ambled into faux living room set singing softly about a beautiful day in the neighborhood, traded his blazer for a cozy cardigan and leather loafers for sneakers, and gently reminded kids that if they didn’t send money to Mister Rogers’ “Pal’s Program” no one would ever love them and their dog would die.

Carson called it an innocent parody. Viewers practically dubbed it blasphemous. Bowing to the backlash, the host was forced to apologize. Today’s late-night shows could only hope their scandals were as harmless.

It is an unsaid rule that in a profession where talking to millions of people every night is a bullet point of your job description, you will put your foot in your mouth — or worse. Samantha Bee‘s recent apology after calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless [expletive]” may be the scandal of the week. But it’s only one mea culpa in a long tradition of late-night hosts apologizing for everything from Mister Roger skits to sexual relationships with multiple staffers.

Here is a brief history of after-dark hosts apologizing for transgressions big and small as well as the great debates that raged around them. #SorryNotSorry?