The new season of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight began Sunday night. The program has been on hiatus for several weeks during which Oliver missed some of the most pungent opportunities to skewer Donald Trump and his new administration. But now he’s back and he hasn’t missed a beat.
In the latest episode Oliver takes on Trump’s acute aversion to telling the truth, or even recognizing reality. He addresses the problem head on by noting that “Trump has made it clear that reality is not important to him.” By now, that may seem like a self-evident assessment of the frightful state of current affairs. Aware of that, Oliver runs down a litany of the falsehoods propagated by Trump and his team of liars. However, he wasn’t satisfied with simply restating the obvious.
Trump poses a unique challenge for both journalists and satirists. His rampant dishonesty practically dares reporters to keep up with the deluge of lies. And comedians are hard pressed to develop comic scenarios that surpass the absurdity of Trump’s delusions. When you have legislators from both parties proposing bills that mandate psychiatric evaluations for the President, the situation has crossed into uncharted territory. Even sober, conservative social commentators like Andrew Sullivan are worried:
“Then there is the obvious question of the president’s mental and psychological health. I know we’re not supposed to bring this up — but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him? ‘
Oliver’s monologue was a useful, if incomplete, summation of the nightmarish plight the nation faces with Trump at its helm. The conclusion focuses not only on Trump’s dishonesty, but his willful ignorance. And on that score, Oliver has a solution:
“There is one small way we wanted to sneak some useful facts into his media diet. As we now know, he watches morning cable news for information. So we’ve actually created a series of commercials to bring him up to speed on some information he may lack. We’re going to run them on shows we know he watches every day.”
This idea isn’t exactly new. It was previously reported that people seeking to influence Trump, including own staff, do something similar. Rather than buy ads, they book themselves on his favorite shows and deliver their advice to him through the TV. They have determined that this is the best way to get his attention and to impact the agenda. Oliver’s way, though, is much funnier.
The “ads” Oliver produced start out like typical ads that might be seen on Fox News. But they shift to a different script midway through. The subjects cover everything from the nuclear triad to climate change. There is even a brief introduction to sex ed. They will be aired on the three cable news networks in Washington, D.C. beginning Monday morning. In this way Oliver hopes to educate The Donald on “topics we’re pretty sure he doesn’t know about.” It’s a long shot, but damn it, it’s worth a try.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.