John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” is a must see

I have written before about John Oliver’s show which is now in its second season. He truly should take over for Jon Stewart, but he may be better placed doing this show. While the show is steeped in comedy, underneath the comedy is some very good journalism on a variety of topics. His show has gotten the attention of other news sources such as PBS Newshour and Charlie Rose’s Show, as well it should.

“Last Week Tonight” typically has the following format – a brief news summary of the week with a break off on one issue for comedic purposes, followed by a more in-depth review of a topic with comedic highlights seasoning the mix. Between the two large segments, he has a taped topical summary called “Now This.” But, it is his crew’s in-depth research and his reporting on the elongated topic which actually leaves some pseudo-news organizations in the dust.

His show is actually covering topics that should be discussed, but don’t get much airplay as the issue is too complex or subtle, or the pseudo-news sources are too biased to cover an issue. The national news sources may whisk by the topics as their viewers don’t want subtlety, time does not permit an in-depth review or their funders would not allow such depth of reporting on an issue. As an example, here are a few topics Oliver has reported on:

– Pay-day lending and the politics and conflict of interests that won’t call this industry on the carpet. He noted some particularly bad examples of conflict of interest in the state of Texas legislature. Predatory pay-day lending is bad news no matter how you slice it.

– Climate change and that it should not be an even-handed debate as 97% of scientists support that it is real, it is a problem and it is man-influenced. Showing this as a 50/50 debate is disservice to the issue.

– The involvement of one small evangelical US organization who helped convince the government of Uganda to persecute homosexuals. The government was surprised when the US government condemned them for this maltreatment and retreated some.

– The lack of oversight of the supplemental vitamin and drug industry, which has been perpetuated by two senators from each party dating back to the 1990s. He also took Dr. Oz to task for his un-scientific based claims of miracle drugs that actually are not proven and some are harmful (Dr. Oz was called on the carpet by Congress as well).

– The lack of awareness of who Eric Snowden is and how the brief notoriety over what NSA is and was doing has waned. The question he is asking has much changed as a result? He also poses a very comical, but vulgar way to get Americans to care about this issue, which has many hits on line.

– The abuse by law enforcement officers in civil forfeiture cases, where departments can seize property or goods if suspected of being used in a crime. This is not uncommon and is how many departments can get around budget cuts. Our rights as citizens are being stepped on by this abuse.

– The abuse of “Patent Trolls” who sue everyone for patent infringement just because certain words were used and they filed a patent on those words, that were not supported by an invention. These trolls extort money, as the true inventor organization would rather pay them off such as $150,000 than go to court and spend millions.

He has also covered the extortion of the World Cup organization that requires a country to spend money needlessly to host the event, the wealth gap in America, the gross misuse of college scholarship marketing by Miss America when it is not significant, and the for-profit college fraudulent claims of success and high marketing budget and many more.

It is a sad indictment of pseudo-news organizations that a comedy show has better news reporting than they do. On the flip side, maybe more people will pay attention if we make fun of the news. Certainly with the changing positions of politicians, there is a lot of material. I would encourage you to watch his show via You Tube or on HBO. A link to You Tube follows:


8 thoughts on “John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” is a must see

  1. I really believe we need to get past the idea of a news media or organization. They no longer exist as we remember them. They are divisions of large corporations that have financial interests in not reporting anything that might adversely affect their income/profits. So we have to rely on the John Oliver’s and Jon Stewarts of the world to get a tidbit of truth out of our daly events.

    • Barney, you are right about the for-profit media, which is why I watch PBS and listen to NPR. At least they note when a story is about a funder. BBC does a good job as well. The other problem is shallow newscasters who don’t know much of anything. Thanks, BTG

      • Living where we do, we unfortunately spend a lot of time in cars traveling to the city for appts. Thats a great time to catch up on NPR and other news radio we listen to.

  2. Note to Readers: On the last show, Oliver’s segments on “Now, This” was entitled the World’s Most Patient Man. He was the guy who fields phone calls on C-SPAN from some of the most interesting callers. They show him constantly saying “Thank you for calling” to the most inane comments from callers which do not show America in its finest light. He shows about a dozen of comments which blame various groups for our woes.

  3. Note to Readers: Oliver was a little more forceful this week on Dr. Oz, who still has a hard time grasping being a Doctor, his advice on all things on his show is taken with greater meaning than he now says they should. When he says this supplement is magical cure people believe him, even though he does not have data to back this claim. This is why he was called on the carpet by Congress of all people, who have let this supplemental drug business go largely unchecked for twenty years. The sad part is people will see Oliver’s latest show as an attack and not look under the covers to see what Oz is peddling on his show, which is and can be dangerous without lots of caveats.

  4. Note to Readers: Oliver was an extended guest on CBS Good Morning Show this morning. Apparently, Charlie Rose is a big fan and vice versa. Interesting sidebar, Oliver’s wife is an Army veteran of some renown.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.