Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 4, Episode 1 - Trump vs Truth - full transcript

John Oliver talks about Donald Trump's activities since becoming the President.

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Welcome to Last Week Tonight !

I'm John Oliver.
Thank you so much for joining us.

We're back,
and a lot has happened.

A lot has happened
since we last saw you. So...

We need to address the big elephant
in the room straight away:

How 'bout "The Young Pope" ?

Pretty crazy, right ?
There's a kangaroo in the Vatican !

I can't think of anything more shocking
to have happened in the last months !

I guess there was that one thing.

The United States has a new president.
The 45th president.

There he is. Donald J. Trump.

We live under President Trump, 2 words
that will never sound normal together,

no matter how many times
you say them.

Like "panda mustard"
or "Mom's orgasm".

The last weeks have been frantic. Trump
has nominated a Supreme Court justice

and issued 24 executive orders
and memoranda,

one of which the notorious "travel ban"
has been smacked down in court,

to which he tweeted nonsensically,
"See you in court !".

He failed to mention Jews in
a Holocaust Remembrance statement,

made fun of Arnold Schwarzenegger's
ratings on "The Celebrity Apprentice",

and twitter-bullied Mexican president
into canceling his visit to the US.

That is just the tip of the shitberg.
It has been so busy,

it's gotten to the point
where the most terrifying sound

is your phone buzzing
with a news alert.

I hate to say this,
but I found myself at one point saying:

"Thank God,
it's just that Mary Tyler Moore's dead."

"That is a massive relief."

We've been living in a world
where if someone says "good morning",

the only acceptable response is:
"No it isn't. What is wrong with you ?"

And even if you try to avoid the news,
someone will come up to you and say:

"The new Secretary of Labor
is a giant jar of wasps". I'm kidding.

The nominee is Andrew Puzder, who
has opposed raising the minimum wage,

and who currently heads
Hardee's and Carl's Junior,

the chains famous
for tasteful ads like this.

Introducing the classic patty melt.
With a spicy twist.

I like it hot !

That is truly the perfect ad
to prepare you for the actual interior

of a Carl's Junior restaurant,
which is undeniably so hot.

But remember Trump's
attorney general is Jeff Sessions,

named "Man of the Year"
by "Wrong Side of History Magazine".

All Trump's nominees seem
to have been chosen sarcastically.

The Secretary of Education
hates public education system,

the nominee to head the EPA
hates the EPA,

and the future Secretary of Energy
is this guy.

Cool !

Rick Perry once proposed eliminating
the department that he will soon head,

although he later recanted, saying:

"After being briefed on so many of the
functions of the Department of Energy,"

"I regret recommending
its elimination."

I can imagine he thought it protected
our reserves of Monster energy drinks".

"Come on, you can't have
monsters gettin' energy !"

"Why're we even givin' em drinks ?
Department needs to be shut down !"

With the pace of chaos
raining upon us,

it is important to find something
to center yourself.

I have been using
this framed photograph of Eddie,

the dog
from the TV show "Frasier".

I look at this
whenever I want to feel better.

Eddie is the perfect example

of something that has no idea
what's going on in the world:

he's a dog, he's fictional,
and he's almost certainly dead.

And at various times these past
few weeks,

I have been genuinely jealous
of all three of those things.

This is going to be
a long presidency.

And perhaps nothing encapsulated
the way many of us feel right now

better than Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe.

He met with our new president
for what was a comically long

and marathon-like handshake,
but watch his expression at the end.

I feel you !

That is the prime minister

of a country known for awkwardly
long formal displays of respect.

And even he is going:
"Fuck this shit".

And now this !

And now... Donald Trump
can't shake hands right.

Thank you very much.

Moving on. Our main story tonight
is going to be a little different.

Normally, we like to focus this part
on complex, depressing policy issues.

Something fun,
like CO2 emissions from hearses,

or space poverty,

or the proliferation of special-purpose
taxing districts, a topic so boring,

you didn't realize we already did that
exact story last year.

And we want
to keep doing those things,

but we can't until we address
something even bigger:

the concept of Reality itself.

And that is because of this guy.

Since taking office
around 412 years ago,

Trump has made it clear that reality
is not important to him.

He's exaggerated
the size of his inauguration crowd,

he said the election was marred
by mass voter fraud with no proof,

and he also falsely claimed
that compared to Muslims,

it was almost impossible for Christian
refugees from Syria to get into the US.

He even lied about the weather
during his inauguration.

The rain should have scared them away
but God looked down and he said:

"We're not gonna let it rain
on your speech".

No, he didn't. First, it did rain
while you were speaking

that's why your wife
was holding up an umbrella,

and people behind
you were wearing ponchos.

And if God did look down,
his only thought would've been:

"The Mormon Tabernacle Choir ?"

"I'm sick of them, and I'm God.
Could you not book silence ?"

"Or was silence somehow
boycotting this thing, too ?"

So, that is where we are currently at.
We have a president capable

of standing in the rain
and saying it was a sunny day.

"Donald Trump lies"
is clearly not a fresh observation.

Liberals are probably thinking:
"Hot take there, Johnny !"

"Next you're going to tell me that
Obama is aloof, Dick Cheney is evil,"

"and Paul Ryan doesn't climax
until he checks his FitBit"

"to see how many calories
he's burned from fucking".

If you're on the other side,
you're probably thinking,

"Another blizzard of snowflakes"

"from "Last Cuck Tonight
with Johnny Trigger-Warning".

And yes, I know all
other presidents have lied.

Politifact found that over a quarter
of President Obama's statements,

that they evaluated,
were some degree of false.

But with Trump,
that number is currently over 2/3.

Perhaps that is why one reporter
found himself saying this.

This is what makes covering
Donald Trump so very difficult.

What does he mean
when he says words ?

"What does he mean
when he says words ?"

We are talking about the president

like a Tindr match
we've been on 4 dates with.

"I asked him if he we could hang out
this Friday and he said"

"Prolly, dot dot dot, I'm starving,
bicycle-emoji poop-emoji".

"What does he mean
when he says words ?"

Trump's relationship
with the truth

is going to be of profound
importance going forward.

Any policy discussion has to begin
with a shared sense of reality.

And Trump's reality can change
within a single sentence.

When you hear
4.9 and 5 percent unemployment,

the number's probably
28, 29, as high as 35

in fact,
I even heard recently 42 percent.

Which one is it, then ?
Because a 4.9 percent rate

might result in a cautiously
constrictive monetary policy,

whereas a 42 percent rate
might result in The Purge.

So we thought it would be useful
to try and answer four questions:

how did we get a pathological liar
in the White House ?

Where are his lies coming from ?
Why do so many people believe him ?

And what can we do about it ?

To that first question,
Trump's lying is nothing new.

He has a well-documented,
40-year history of bullshit.

He lied about being
invited on this show,

and about the ratings
for "The Celebrity Apprentice".

He pretended to be
his own publicist.

Even his building, Trump Tower,
is not as big as he says it is.

He inflated the floor numbers.

His 58-story building
became a 68-story building.

It made a lot of sense in his mind.
If you're renting a room,

you'd rather be on the 14th floor
than on the 6th floor.

Spare a thought for firefighters
turning up to that building.

"The smoke alarm's going off
in penthouse B on the 68th floor,"

"which is apparently
an alcove studio on the 58th."

"Quick, it's an emergency."

But lies like that
are almost charming.

What is less harmless

is when he started lying
about the president's birth certificate,

and then started making
troubling statements like these.

The murder rate in the United States,

it's the worst,
the highest it's been in 45 years.

Our president wants to take in
250 000 from Syria.

Our gross domestic product,
a sign of strength, right ?

But not for us. It was below zero.
Who ever heard of this ?

Real quick on those:
no it isn't, no he didn't,

and no one's ever heard
of a GDP below zero,

because that is impossible.

Any one of those falsehoods
could have disqualified him for office.

We were so accustomed
to Trump's nonsense,

people could just shrug it off
as "Donald being Donald".

His advisers argued that people
shouldn't worry about his statements,

because he didn't really
mean them.

I think a lot of the voters
who vote for Trump

take Trump seriously,
but not literally.

When they hear things like the Muslim
comment or the wall comment,

the question is not are you gonna build
a wall like the Great Wall of China,

or how exactly are you
gonna enforce these tests ?

What they hear is,
we're gonna have...

a saner,
more sensible immigration policy.

That is definitely the sense I got
from watching those Trump rallies.

"Yes, while we are all furiously
chanting build that wall,"

"we all understand, in this context,
wall is a clever use of metonymy,"

"or a figure of speech
in which one word, wall,"

"is used as a stand-in for a saner,
more sensible immigration policy."

Now, if you will,
let's unpack 'Trump the bitch'.

Yet the travel ban literally happened,
and as for the wall...

The wall is getting designed
right now.

A lot of people say,
"Trump was only kidding..."

I don't kid.

Exactly, when he says he's going
to build a wall, he means it.

It might be 30 feet and labeled 156
stories but assume that it's coming.

It was worth taking him seriously.
Trump was telling the truth

about his solutions to the problems
he was lying about.

And he is now making real policy
based on fake facts.

Which brings us to our second question:
where is his information coming from ?

Trump himself has admitted
he gets a lot of it from TV.

Which may explain
why he speaks so confidently

about cable news staples
like crime and terrorism,

but when it comes to the nuts-and-bolts
aspects of government

like the nuclear triad, he struggles.

He famously flubbed a question
on the triad during an early debate,

in an exchange that ended like this.

So the three legs of the triad,
though, do you have a priority ?

To me, nuclear's just the power,
the devastation is very important.

That is terrifying. The components
of that triad are important.

It is unacceptable not to be able
to name every one of them,

they are nuclear weapons,
not your children.

What is her name, Donald ?
What is her name ?

I'll give you a hint. It starts with T.
And it's not the other one.

And you would hope that,
as President,

he'd be getting information
from primary sources,

but Trump still watches
a phenomenal amount of cable news.

His tweets frequently echo things
that just aired on TV.

Two weeks ago, he tweeted,
"ungrateful traitor Chelsea Manning"

"is now calling President Obama
a weak leader. Terrible !"

Interesting, because Chelsea Manning
never used the words "weak leader".

That phrase was used on Fox News
just 15 minutes before he tweeted,

in a segment, which also called
Manning an "ungrateful traitor".

The President seems to tweet about
whatever information he saw on news.

If someone changed the channel
to the Sprout network, he'd tweet,

"Caillou's life is boring
even for a cancer kid. Sad !"

Now to give you a sense of just
how much he watches cable news,

a few hours later,
he was on Air Force One,

and you could hear
the commercials from Fox News

blaring in the background.

- Thank you.
- How was your first flight ?

That's real. That is the Empire Carpet
jingle playing at full blast.

Trump just made
the interior of Air Force One

sound like the living room
of an old person

who died three days ago
and who nobody's found yet.

He watches so much cable TV,

he presumably also gets
daily briefings from this guy.

I'm a professional cowboy,
and I use catheters.

Been cowboyin' for 25 years.
I've broken 14 bones,

had two concussions
and a punctured lung.

I know pain, and I don't want
any more of it. Especially when I cath.

I have so many questions.

Is "cath" a real verb ? If you've
only been "cowboyin'" for 25 years,

what did you do
before you were cowboyin' ?

Why are you in a library that doesn't
want to overdo it with the books ?

You fascinate me.

But Trump doesn't just
watch cable news,

he also takes information in
from unreliable sources,

such as Breitbart,
the organization

which gave us Steve Bannon,
now Trump's chief strategist.

Breitbart has published
such Pulitzer-eligible stories

as "birth control makes women
unattractive and crazy",

"racist, pro-Nazi roots of Planned
Parenthood revealed"

and "hoist it high and proud:"

"the Confederate flag proclaims
a glorious heritage."

The kind you see your old
high school friends share on Facebook

and think: "That's a shame.
I guess Greg sucks now."

Trump's trust in Breitbart
goes way back.

Years ago, Trump
was challenged by Bill O'Reilly,

who pointed out that his claim
that thousands of Muslims

were seen celebrating
in New Jersey on 9/11

was based on no evidence
and this is how Trump responded.

I don't know that I'm wrong.
This came out from Breitbart.

Trump vindicated,
100% vindicated.

If there were thousands that
would have been reported.

This article says
they were swarming.

This article says they were swarming
all over the place.

It means a lot of people.

Holding up a Breitbart article does
not make you seem more credible.

You might as well have gone:
"Hold on a second, Bill. Hello ?"

Sources are saying I'm right.
Talk to my sources, William.

Trump's sources get even worse.
Because he also cited an article

to support his "Muslims on 9/11"
claim from "Infowars",

a website run by this guy.

Hillary and Obama want to make you
poor and pathetic. They hate you !

They hate prosperity, God,
children ! God damn them to hell !

That man is Alex Jones and that
is him at his most presentable.

That is Alex Jones at a job interview.

That's Alex Jones meeting
his girlfriend's parents first time.

Jones has argued the government
has the ability to control tornadoes,

that the Boston marathon bombing
was a "false flag" attack

and that tap water
is a "gay bomb"

and that they are putting chemicals
in that "turn the friggin' frogs gay".

Then there is the Sandy Hook
school shooting.

Sandy Hook is a synthetic,

completely fake, with actors,
in my view, manufactured.

I couldn't believe it at first.
I knew they had actors there,

but I thought
they killed real kids.

It just shows how bold they are,
that they clearly used actors.

That is not just offensive,
it's stupid.

If the government had
hired child actors,

there is no way their stage parents
would've stopped talking about it.

Didn't get the Tide commercial,
but booked a leading role

in a government-sponsored
false-flag attack.

The same director who did
the moon landing ! We're excited.

Trump is such a fan
that Alex Jones himself has said:

"it is surreal to talk about issues
here on air"

"and then word for word hear
Trump say it two days later."

I would be skeptical,

if Trump hadn't gone
on Jones's show and said this.

I want to finish by saying
your reputation's amazing.

I will not let you down.
You will be impressed, I hope.

I think we'll be speaking a lot.

It makes sense that Trump
wants to impress Alex Jones.

Why "drain the swamp", if not
to eradicate all those gay frogs ?

Stay there,
you two stay where you are.

This is really dangerous,
because there is a pattern:

Trump sees something that jibes with
his worldview, doesn't check it,

half-remembers it
and then passes it on,

it takes on a life of its own
and appears to validate itself.

Let me try and show you
that machine in action.

Trump's constant claim that millions
of people voted illegally

originated from some dude
on Twitter, who claimed in November,

while providing no evidence:

"we have verified more than
3 million votes cast by non-citizens."

Next day, Infowars picked that up
and it spread like jet fuel.

It was debunked by multiple outlets,
but despite that, days later,

President-Elect Trump started tweeting
about "millions of illegal votes"

and "serious voter fraud"
in states like California.

In December, people were on TV,
expressing similar concerns.

Voting is a privilege in this country.
And you need to be legal,

not like California
where 3 million illegals voted.

- Where are you getting your info ?
- From the media.

That answers our third question,
of why so many people believe Trump.

If you get your news
from similar sources to him,

as many people do,
he doesn't look like a crank.

He looks like the first President
ever to tell you the real truth.

Rumors can be tenacious.
I'll prove it:

what rumor do you think of
when you hear the name Richard Gere ?

Here's the thing:
there is no proof that he did that.

If you think, it's ridiculous. Have you
ever held one of those things ?

No way it was possible !
But if the President went on TV

and told you it was true, you'd go:
"I knew it ! Finally someone said it."

That loop gets more dangerous when
you're not talking about gerbils.

Trump validated his supporters'
beliefs about voter fraud.

And in turn, they validated his.

When he was confronted with the lack
of evidence, this is how he responded.

It's important that millions
agree with me when I say that.

If you've looked at the other networks
and the people were calling in said:

"we agree with Mr. Trump",
they're smart people.

Just because they believe you, and you
believe them, doesn't make it true.

This isn't like Peter Pan,

where believing in fairies
will keep Tinkerbell alive.

This isn't a magic thing, Peter !
She has Lou Gehrig's Disease !

Instead of clapping, you should've
done the ice bucket challenge !

Then she'd still be alive !
I'm sorry Peter, but she's dying.

Tinkerbell's dying.

Even if you take the kindest
approach here

and assume Trump made
an innocent mistake,

passed along a story
without checking it,

when he was presented
with a lack of evidence,

he disregarded that fact,
at which point, he is lying.

It seems no one in the White House
has a problem with that.

When asked to justify President's
views, this is what Sean Spicer did.

believed that a while.

A longstanding belief he's maintained.
It's a belief he maintains.

It's a belief that he's maintained.
He's believed this for a long time.

A comment he made
on a long-standing belief.

He believes what he believes based
on the information he's provided.

What does
that mean for democracy ?

- I've answered your question.
- Have you ?

No, you haven't, Melissa...

Because this isn't about belief.

It can't be. The incidence
of voter fraud is a verifiable fact.

And faith and facts aren't like
Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton.

When you confuse them,
it actually matters.

Real people get hurt when you make
policy based on false information.

Billions will get spent
on a wall that won't work,

while refugees sit in dangerous

to prevent "Bowling Green"-style
massacres that never took place.

What are we going to do ?
The press is going to be a key element

in helping us sort out fact from
fiction and they are under attack.

This administration seized on small
corrections in news coverage

attempting to delegitimize
all of them.

This is only going to get worse.
Steve Bannon has labeled the media

the "opposition party", although there
does seem to be one exception.

The only seat that was reserved for
the media at Trump's news conference

was in the front row
and it was for Breitbart News.

That is some blatant favoritism.

You are Snow White
introducing the dwarfs saying:

"Meet Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy,
big-dick-cool-dwarf and three others."

If you are thinking that Breitbart
went out of their way

to ask a challenging question,
think again.

Go ahead.

With CNN's decision to publish fake
news over the course of the election,

what reforms do you recommend
for this industry here ?

I have two follow-up questions:
does this feel good ?

And will you let me know
when you're going to come ?

Just tap my head.

The end game is obvious:
with a delegitimized press,

you're only going to have
one source to get your news from

as one congressman
pointed out.

Better to get your news
directly from the President.

It might be the only way
to get the unvarnished truth.

Getting your news from the leader
is the philosophy of North Korea.

The notion that our leaders

should be able to pass
on mistruths with impunity,

should be alarming
to everybody, regardless of politics.

Republicans should want our sense
of objective reality to remain intact,

in case the Democrats
find their own appealing reality star

to win back the White House,
RuPaul, for instance.

Make America fierce again.
Hashtag make America fierce again.

We need to commit
to defending the reality of facts.

As we've already seen, protests,
calls to legislators, and lawsuits

are ways to try and drag
the administration back to reality.

But this needs to go down
to a personal level, as well.

We should make extra efforts
on social media to verify stories.

Especially if they confirm
our pre-existing biases.

Ask questions like: "is this
a source I know and recognize ?"

Does it link to primary sources and do
sources match what the story says ?

If you see an outlet getting things
wrong and never correcting it,

maybe stop trusting it, whether
that outlet is some idiot's blog

or the White House.

I know our President will not
follow any of those suggestions,

partly because rightfully,
he does not watch this show,

there is one small way we wanted
to try and sneak some useful facts.

He watches morning cable news
for information.

We've created commercials,

to bring him up to speed on
some information he may lack.

We'll run them on shows we know
he watches every day. Take a look.

Catheter patients !

I'm a professional cowboy
and I use catheters.

Been cowboying for 25 years
and there's two things I know.

I don't like pain when I cath
and the nuclear triad

consists of land-based missiles,

submarine-launched missiles
and aerial bombers.

This increases our ability to
strike back in the event

one of those is destroyed and
deters an attack on us or our allies.

That's the nuclear triad,

in case you're the person
who might really need to know that.

That ad will air tomorrow
morning between 8:30 and 9

on all these channels in the DC area.

And until we're shut down,
we are prepared to educate Trump

on topics we're pretty sure
he doesn't know about.

Might seem like a show of strength
to kill the families of terrorists,

but according to Geneva Conventions,
it's a war crime.

Not all black people live
in the inner cities

and not all people
in the inner cities are black.

There's something you may not know.

Appetizer fork, entrée fork.

I know it can sometimes feel as if
you are the only person in the world.

But, as you can see here, there
are many non-you people.

We call those other people.

Just because sometimes it's cold,
don't mean there's no global warming.

You confuse climate
with weather.

Gabon is a country on
the west coast of Africa.

Tiffany. Tif-fa-ny.

The unemployment rate
is a carefully calculated measure

derived from a monthly survey
conducted by two federal agencies

and has been the agreed-upon
standard since 1948.

And that little fella there

is what we call the clitoris.

Just remember, Donald, if you
don't know, it's okay to ask.

See you tomorrow.

That's our show. We'll see you
next week, good night !