Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 7, Episode 17 - Coronavirus IX: Evictions - full transcript

Like coronavirus and unemployment issues evictions is something that USA could prepared for. While people are choosing between rent and food due to the pandemic, John Oliver presented the ...

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Hi, welcome to the show, still
coming to you from this blank void.

It's been another eventful week, with
elections in New York and Kentucky,

plagued by long lines,
and the Trump administration

trying again to dismantle
the Affordable Care Act.

Because if there's one thing we have
too much of right now, it's healthcare.

And yet, the news has been dominated
by the coronavirus,

among other things, the worst thing
to happen to weddings since flash mobs.

U.S. is setting records for new cases
as the virus surges around the country.

Which makes it both startling
and frankly infuriating

that on Friday, the vice president
made this declaration.

We did slow the spread.
We flattened the curve,

we were able
to stand up the resources

and the capacities
in our healthcare system

to be able to meet
this coronavirus

in a way that would put the health
of all of our country first.

What ? That is just
such an open and stupid lie.

It's like, instead of saying, "Your dog
is on a farm upstate," your dad said,

"Your dog owns a farm upstate
that has the market cornered in

wholesale wheat and grain supplies
for the entirety of Saratoga County."

That's not true. The dog is dead
and so are over 120,000 Americans.

On top of that, Pence conspicuously
omitted "wearing a mask"

from advice that he gave for slowing
the spread of the virus.

And I will just never understand
why, or even how,

Republicans have made "not spreading
disease" into a culture war issue.

Honestly, this was a missed
opportunity for them.

You could've printed "Make America
Great Again" on a billion red masks

and dropped them out of helicopters.

People would've worn them !

You're not capitalizing on a national
disaster correctly, you idiots.

The most aggressive states
about reopening for business,

like Texas and Florida,

are now seeing
some of the worst spikes in cases,

making their governors'
early proclamations of success

seem pretty ill-advised,

perhaps none more so than this,
from Ron DeSantis, just last month.

You've got
a lot of people in your profession

who waxed poetically
for weeks and weeks

about how Florida
was gonna be just like New York.

"Wait two weeks, Florida's gonna be
next. Just like Italy, wait two weeks."

We're eight weeks away
from that and it hasn't happened.

Really ? As a general thought here:

I so badly want Ron DeSantis
to go on a lengthy tirade

about how he has never been hit
by lightning and never will be.

C'mon Ron-please. You show
that liberal lightning hoax who's boss.

The continuing spread of the virus
brings us to our main story tonight,

because we have a huge Covid-related
catastrophe that is around the corner.

Hundreds of tenants rallying this week
demanding rent relief.

The next few months could see the
largest number of eviction cases ever.

Yeah. As if things weren't already bad
enough, in the middle of a pandemic,

we may be about to see
evictions on the rise.

And on the list of things
you hope never to see on the rise,

evictions have to be right
up at the top-tied, of course,

with Larry King's penis.

That thing going up is not
what our current situation requires.

While evictions rising is shocking,
it was also completely foreseeable.

Coronavirus has played havoc
with employment,

making it difficult
for many to make rent,

which was always going
to have significant consequences,

given that about one-third
of U.S. households are renters,

and renters tend to have lower incomes
than homeowners in the first place.

And while stimulus checks,
expanded unemployment insurance,

and state and federal
moratoriums on evictions

undoubtedly helped
hold back the tide,

those mechanisms
are now starting to run out or expire.

And if we do nothing, experts
are predicting horrific outcomes,

with millions of people
left vulnerable.

This is the worst economic crisis the
United States has seen in generations.

If nothing else changes
and evictions continue as normal,

this public health crisis will turn
into a full-blown homelessness crisis.

It's true-the coronavirus crisis

could also soon turn into a fullblown
homelessness crisis.

And it's hard to even fathom
something already so bad

transforming into something else
so appalling.

It's like finding out that Magikarp,

the worst Pokémon for obvious reasons,
is set to evolve into Kevin Spacey.

I should've traded you for Psyduck
when I had the chance.

And it says something about the utter
absurdity of what's about to happen

that this is how some eviction hearings
will be taking place.

Starting with tomorrow's docket, Judge
Lopez will start hearing eviction cases

either in the court using webcams

with the defendant and the plaintiff
in separate rooms, over Zoom,

or even on the phone.

What are you doing ?

It might be worth thinking twice
about what you're taking part in,

if you're throwing people
out of their homes via Zoom,

a platform you're only using

because it's not safe for people
to leave their homes.

Zoom shouldn't be where you find out
that you're getting evicted.

It should be where you find out
in a virtual happy hour

which one of your coworkers
has been secretly rich the whole time.

I'm sorry, Joanna has a chandelier ?
Where did she get chandelier money ?

Why don't I have chandelier money ?

Look, the fact is,
we're about to go out of our way

to throw people out of their homes
at the worst possible time.

And even in normal times,
evictions are incredibly damaging,

with long, long-term effects.

They've been linked
to heightened residential instability,

substandard housing, declines
in neighborhood quality, and job loss.

And on the individual level,
they can be completely devastating

in ways that you may not even realize,

from families losing their possessions
and having to start over,

to significant difficulties
in obtaining new housing,

something that can be hard to do
with an eviction on your record.

Evictions have consequences that can
haunt you for the rest of your life.

So tonight,
with rent due in just three days,

we thought it might be a good time
to talk about evictions.

Let's start with the fact
that the lack of affordable housing

is another problem that the coronavirus
has thrown into harsh relief.

Because it was a crisis in this country
long before the pandemic struck,

with rents so high
and renters so burdened

that stories like these
became a staple on local news.

A chaotic scene as hundreds
make a run for the door

and a chance
at Dallas County housing vouchers.

At least 8 people suffered injuries
while trying to line up this morning.

I saw people run,
so I started running

and I slipped and fell,
all over the pavement.

Jordan Spivey's all scuffed up after
taking quite a tumble this morning

but grateful
she wasn't trampled, too.

Holy shit !
No one should ever be trampled

by a crowd of people out of desperation
to get rental assistance.

There are only two times when trampling
is remotely acceptable:

the day after Thanksgiving,
America's national trampling holiday,

and whatever day in the future
the PS5 comes out.

I don't care that it looks
like an alien's waffle maker,

or a penguin designed by Apple.

It's gonna have "Horizon Forbidden
West" as an exclusive release,

and I will stomp anyone
who stands between me and that game.

I want to murder now dinosaur robots
with flaming arrows.

Now, that particular stampede
was nearly a decade ago,

but unfortunately, the problem
has only gotten worse since then.

Rents have risen significantly faster
than incomes,

to the point where,
for renters below the poverty line,

the majority are spending more than
half of their income on housing,

and a quarter
are paying 70 percent or more,

which is not remotely sustainable.

around a million households

have been evicted each year
for over a decade.

And all of this disproportionately
impacts people of color,

as Black households, for instance,

are twice as likely
as White households to face eviction,

and women of color particularly Black
women, are especially vulnerable to it.

So, things have clearly been bad
for a long time,

but once the pandemic hit, like
everything else, they got even worse.

And yet, you might have assumed that
there was a freeze on rent payments

if you listened to decomposing
melon Larry Kudlow,

laying out the Trump administration's
plans back in March.

Don't forget also, please:

regarding things like rent payments
or rental home loans,

all that will-evictions, let me add
that, all that will be put on hold.

There will be no evictions
during this period.

Now, that sounds great,

especially if what you took from it
was, "no rent, no evictions".

But that's not
actually what he's saying there.

The policy he's describing
only paused evictions, not rent.

Meaning that for those unable to pay,

the bills they owe have
just been piling up this whole time.

Also, the policy only applied
to certain properties,

like those with federallybacked

which account
for just a quarter of all rental units.

So, as far as comprehensive plans
to stem this crisis, it leaves a lot out.

Much the same way, in fact,
that Larry Kudlow's wife

leaves a lot out of her many paintings
of her husband's clothes.

what she leaves out is her husband.

Because, as we've mentioned
before on this show,

there is simply nothing
that she likes to do more

than paint her husband's ties over
and over and over and over again,

in a joyous celebration
of the absence of Larry Kudlow.

When we first brought this up,
months ago, we offered anyone

10 U.S. dollars, plus a $20,000
donation to their local food bank,

if they were willing to sell us
one of these Larry-less masterpieces.

Everything's been so busy

that we haven't had the chance to
reveal something to you, and that is...

We actually got one.

And the absence of Larry
is even more striking in person.

The federal moratorium on evictions
left a lot of people unprotected.

And while several dozen states
put in place their own moratoriums,

many of those protections
have already expired,

leaving renters in 23 states with no
state-level protection from eviction,

meaning many tenants are forced
to rely on the kindness of landlords.

Some of whom, to their credit,
have worked with their tenants

and reduced the rent owed

or have stepped up in even bigger ways,
like this guy.

Mario Salerno owns 80 apartments
in his hometown of Williamsburg.

He knows the pain
so many are going through.

So, he decided this month
to waive rent for everyone, everyone.

200 tenants
and he is not collecting.

For me, it was more important
for people's health,

and worrying about
who could put food on whose table.

Some tenants that said they can't work,
they didn't have money to pay me.

I says, "Don't worry about paying me.
Worry about your neighbor."

That's great ! That's very generous !
But unfortunately,

the solution clearly can't be to count
on everyone being like that guy.

If for no other reason
than if everyone was like that guy

we'd be forced
to make a "Sopranos" reboot

that was essentially
just "Oops! All Silvios."

And nobody wants that,
not even Silvio.

He balked at his brief tenure being the
skipper, he couldn't handle the crown.

Let's let him stay
where he's comfortable !

And the truth is,
rather than emulating that guy,

some landlords
have gone the opposite way,

even trying to threaten tenants
despite the protections in place.

Cortney is still in disbelief

as she reads through the most recent
emails from her landlord.

She says on March 31st she told
the landlord, who lives in Canada,

that April rent would be late;
days later...

"Just pay the rent or move out."

The emails started.

"You lying... "

"Both you and your grandmother
can go online and ... yourselves."

That isn't just horrifying,
it also effectively demolishes

every Canadian stereotype
I've previously held.

'Cause it seems
there is a new type of Canadian

that none of us have known about
and it's the hard-hearted bad boy

who tells you and your grandma
to go fuck yourselves.

Now, luckily, that woman's governor
had ordered a freeze on evictions

for those affected by Covid,
which covered her situation.

And when that local news reporter
pointed that out to her landlord,

his response was pretty remarkable.

He sent us a colorful email.
In it, he apologized for the profanity

and said he's willing to waive
her late fees plus half the April rent

which he would lose anyway
if he had to find a new tenant.

And, they can both get on with, quote,
"our miserable lives."

Whatever you think of that landlord's
behavior, I will say this:

that is objectively the correct way
to end any email in 2020.

"Happy virtual graduation !
Let's get on with our miserable lives."

"Congrats on the new baby !
Let's get on with our miserable lives."

"My deepest condolences
on the loss of your grandmother.

She lived a long and miserable life.
She'd want us to get on with ours."

Even when landlords and property
managers obeyed the moratoriums,

they often made it painfully clear

that tenants were gonna be evicted
at the first available opportunity.

I'm notoriously a landlord that doesn't
let tenants get by with any exception.

Even as court hearings
are temporarily on hold,

he's moving forward with filing
evictions and attempting to collect.

It's never fun throwing
throwing a single mother

and their three kids out
on the streets.

But it's business.

Okay, first of all: never say never.
What if the three kids in question

were Baby Hitler, Baby Stalin,
and Donald Trump Jr,

and their single mom
was Ghislaine Maxwell ?

That's a pretty fun eviction
right there.

That foursome could frankly use
a little time on the street.

But what is happening in that example
is actually really important.

Because many of those moratoriums
prevent the physical act of eviction,

but they don't stop the legal process
that leads up to it.

Many landlords
and property managers

have been able to file for evictions
in court this whole time.

Meaning, cases have just been
piling and piling and piling up.

And as soon as moratoriums are lifted,
which is happening in many places,

evictions could come fast.

Some landlords will tell you that the
current situation isn't their fault,

and that their tenants should've
somehow prepared better.

One property management company

made that argument
to a local Denver news crew,

who then played the audio
to one of the company's tenants,

and just wait
until you see his response.

I understand that everybody is in
a state of fear and panic right now,

but it's not the property
owners' responsibility.

We have to plan for a rainy day.

Everybody should be planning
for a rainy day.

Maybe you should've saved
for the rainy day. Just saying.

Yeah !
That's a fair point !

Why are renters consistently
the only ones being told

that they should've planned better ?

It's important to remember everyone
is in this crisis together right now.

And this isn't just a rainy day,
it's the great flood,

and one reason
no one has an umbrella

is 'cause it's not safe to reopen
the fucking umbrella factory yet.

In the face of an extreme crisis,

tenants are understandably calling for
drastic measures, like rent strikes.

We are out here today
to demand that the city, the state

and the federal government
cancel the rents.

We need rent cancellation.

Every month we're accumulating
more and more debt.

So, there's no way we're gonna
be able to repay that back.

A lot of us are already choosing
between food and rent.

We're saying to choose food.

The same way they bail out banks,

they should bail out
working families like mine.

Yeah, of course.
We should absolutely treat families

at least as well as we treat banks,
who can apparently, like Wells Fargo,

just re-establish themselves
whenever they get in trouble.

Next time your landlord asks you
for your last three months of rent,

why not tell them
that they're mistaken,

that rent was owed
by the previous you.

The current you was re-established
on July 1st of 2020

and you're ready for a fresh start.

Rent strikes are a risk.

Ultimately, you could end up
being evicted for non-payment,

which could make it harder
to get housing in the future.

Depending on your landlord's situation,
they might be unable to meet

property taxes that go toward
funding essential city services.

They are not
without consequences.

But, you can see why many
have been pushing for them,

or, indeed, for rent cancellation,
because people are desperate.

Strikes have been an effective way

of calling attention
to how dire things are now.

While, long-term, we need a plan
to fix our affordable housing crisis,

in the short term, we have to find
a way to keep people in their homes.

Although some cities are trying
to provide rental assistance,

the limited funds make it difficult
to address the scope of the problem.

Take Houston: they established
a $15 million rental relief fund.

This is what happened.

$15 million,
gone in just 90 minutes,

money dedicated to help families
pay their rent during this pandemic.

"We are not able to accept
your application..."

Rita and Trevor had applied for
18-hundred bucks in rental assistance.

They won't be getting that help,

because by the time they applied
online this morning,

the money was already gone.

$15 million gone within an hour ?
Come on now.

Yeah, it's shocking to watch
$15 million disappear in 90 minutes.

Not quite as shocking
as watching $175 million disappear

in around the same time,
but still, you know, shocking.

The city of Houston knew going in
that this was gonna be an issue.

They even tweeted after the fact:

"We understand this is nowhere
near enough"

"to meet the need
of all Houstonians."

The city directly encouraged people
to reach out to their representatives

to advocate for greater funding.

The truth is, cities can only do
so much without federal intervention,

they have the same amount of power
as the servants of Downton Abbey.

Sure, they'll do what they can,
but at a certain point,

when things get really bad, they're
gonna have to take this shit upstairs.

Now, in a much bolder move,
the City of Ithaca, New York,

is currently in the process
of trying to cancel rent

for those affected by this pandemic
and is calling on the state

to provide funding
for landlords who need relief.

And that is an interesting idea.
Although, again, it requires

the people upstairs, like the state
and federal government, to act.

Unfortunately, they have dragged their
feet on offering solutions for renters

that remotely meet
the scale of this crisis.

Back in May, to its credit,
the House passed the Heroes Act,

which provided $100 billion in rental
assistance for the most vulnerable.

Unfortunately, since then,
the bill has stalled out in the Senate,

which is frankly no surprise,
as multiple high-level Republicans

have expressed their reticence
to pass another relief package.

I think that many people
would like to just pause for a moment

and take a look at the economic impact
of this massive assistance program.

If the economy continues the momentum
that we're beginning to see,

that might conclude that the stimulus
that we've already passed is enough.

We need to assess
what we've already done,

take a look at what worked
and what didn't

and we'll discuss the way forward
in the next couple weeks.

In a couple of weeks ? Really ?

Well, here's the thing:
that was back in May.

We're now at the end of June,
nothing has been passed

and rent is due
on fucking Wednesday.

I do know that time
simply does not function the same way

for Mitch McConnell
as it does for everyone else.

For us, today is June 28th,
but for him,

based on the way that he thinks,
speaks and behaves,

the current date is somewhere
around May 12th, 1853.

And look: the sad truth is,
we've already waited too long here.

There is absolutely no excuse
for not attacking this problem

with real urgency.

While we wait for Congress to act,

people like this woman are having
to deal with the consequences.

Kianah Ashley is being evicted
and a nightmare is unfolding

for her and her five-year-old son,

That's something I wouldn't wish
on my worst enemy

because not knowing where you're going
to rest your head at for the next day,

that's not good.

Yeah, of course it's not good.

Everyone deserves
the basic stability of shelter.

If you've begun to despise

the house that you've been shut inside
for the past three and a half months,

it is worth remembering,
the only thing worse

than knowing you'll spend another
day stuck under the same roof

is not knowing that.

While there are clearly
no perfect options here,

the very worst thing that we could do
right now is nothing.

Because every day we fail to act
is a day that we're compounding

another future crisis for millions
of vulnerable renters and communities.

We need to stop
this before it gets even worse,

and in the long term, we badly need
to solve our affordable housing crisis.

Because then, and only then, if I may
quote the world's rudest Canadian,

can we all get on
with our miserable lives.

And now, this.

The Citizens Of Palm Beach County,

Have Some Thoughts
On Mandatory Face Masks.

My name is Butch
and I'm an American patriot.

See that flag ?
I would die for that flag.

Now, there is so much evidence.
CDC itself said they made a mistake.

There's not enough to make this
a pandemic. This is a planned-demic.

You can not mandate somebody
to wear a mask

knowing that that mask
is killing people.

Our Amazon Prime driver
was so weak from wearing his mask,

he begged my husband for Advil
and water.

He said: "This mask is killing me".

They want to throw God's wonderful
breathing system out the door.

We've been harassed, defamed,
humiliated, discriminated.

I'll get discriminated
against everywhere I go,

even more than I already am.

I'm also the daughter of somebody
who lived through Germany.

I know a lot of stories. And this
is sounding very familiar to me.

How will young children be able to know
who the dangerous deviants are

like pedophiles and people
into human sex trafficking ?

This is our right to not wear anything
to cover our faces or hold our breath.

I would die for that country.
I would die for the Constitution.

You know what ? You disgrace me !
'Cause I would die for that flag.

I'm not wearing it today. Besides,
despite what you guys do up here today,

I'm not wearing one tomorrow.

I was born free, I will stay free.
My rights come from God, not from you.

You're gonna have to hold me down
and put it on me.

I don't wear a mask for the same
reason I don't wear underwear.

Things gotta breathe.

Moving on. Finally tonight,
another quick look at social media,

that place where Zac Efron
once tweeted:

"I'm thankful
for a couple things today:"

"Martin Luther King Jr
and 10 million followers on Instagram."

It is a mixed bag.
You might remember last week,

we talked about how K-pop fans
have been using social media

to drown out racists online
and do some good in the world.

This week, we're gonna talk
about the exact opposite of that.

Because it turns out,
TikTok has a brand-new star

and it is the last person you want.

Yeah, that is John Schnatter,
otherwise known as "Papa John",

riding a tiny tricycle around
to a Megan Thee Stallion song

and asking:
"Am I doing this right ?"

And obviously,
no, you're not.

But also, you do know
what that means, teens:

TikTok is officially shitty now.

Shitty now !

You always knew
that it was just a matter of time

before some middle-aged white guy
ruined your favorite online thing,

but I'm guessing that you didn't know
it was gonna happen like this.

That's honestly just one of many posts
that Papa John has shared

since significantly boosting his
social media presence late last year.

He's used TikTok
and Instagram to do things

like give people a tour of his house,
which, by the way, is something.

Howdy. Papa John.
Welcome to my crib.

Start off with the clock.
Eagles go up several thousand feet.

They mate all the way down.
Right before they hit the earth,

they separate so they
don't get hurt or killed.

Perfect timing, eagles mating clock,
spins four times an hour.

Setting aside the neo-classical
ejaculation that is his home,

that is one hell of a statement
entryway piece.

Not to be pedantic, but we looked
into it and that's not how eagles mate.

Courtship displays take place in flight
but eagles do not mate in the air.

What you're thinking of
is Cirque du Soleil performers.

They're the ones who trapeze-fuck
the shit out of each other way up high.

Eagles, however, have sex in a nest
or on a tree branch.

Not saying the man
behind a pizza empire

should have a nuanced
understanding of eagle fucking.

By making that the first thing
that greets visitors into your house,

you kind of are presenting
yourself as an expert.

But wait, because part two of his tour
was a glimpse into his office.

This is the bishop's chair
out of a church in Italy.

We think that it's about
500 years old.

It's one of my favorite sayings:

"All the best have something
in common, a regard for reality."

Hold on. It seems Papa John
printed out his favorite saying,

framed it, and then placed it
in the middle of a desk,

where it looks less like words
of inspiration

and more like the WiFi password
at a coffee shop.

That quote is by Polish Nobel Prize
winner Wislawa Szymborska

who was commenting on the excesses
of postmodern literature.

The incongruity of reading
a 20th-century Polish poet's quote

about the value of staying grounded
while standing in front

of a five-century-old bishop's chair
in your 40 000 square foot pizza castle

is matched only by the incongruity
of thinking

that showing people this in the midst
of a historic economic collapse

would be good PR for you.

Because to be clear: Papa John's
sudden social media presence

is part of a concerted PR campaign
to repair his image.

An image, by the way,
that needs quite a lot of repairing.

Just to refresh your memory here:
Papa John had to leave his company

following a series
of controversies and scandals,

from his 2017 comments that his
company's sales had been hurt

by NFL leadership not clamping
down hard enough

on players protesting
police brutality, to this.

Founder and face of Papa John's Pizza
is apologizing and admitting

that a report he used the n-word
on a conference call in May is true.

Yeah, he apparently used
the n-word on a conference call.

And not just any conference call,

during a role-playing exercise focused
on averting public relations crises.

Which, in terms of contexts
in which to say that word,

is far and away the worst, tied only
with every other context.

Ever since, Papa John has tried
to offer explanations for his behavior,

arguing that the conference call
was leaked

as a part of a conspiracy
to remove him from his company

and that he only used that slur

in the course of explaining
that he doesn't use it.

An argument
he's tried to make repeatedly,

like in this interview,
where he attempts to prove

that he's not a fan of the n-word,
in the weirdest imaginable way.

If I go to dinner and somebody
uses that word, one time,

and I'll get up and leave dinner.

I've done that, more than once.
But, it's just not a good word.

Yeah, nothing says:
"I'm not a racist"

like repeatedly making dinner plans
with people who might say the n-word

and then leaving
once they do in fact say it.

I didn't realize there was a more
repulsive type of Papa John's dinner

than this kind, but it turns out
that I was wrong.

And now, by his own admission,
Papa John is posting on social media

at the suggestion
of his brand new PR team.

And one of the things that
he's doing is trying to take ownership

of the jokes made at his expense.

That interview you just saw
was him appearing on a podcast

whose host has made fun of him
for years,

mocking him
with the phrase "Papa Bless",

which he is now trying to reclaim,
selling t-shirts with the phrase on it

and also releasing
thirsty online content like this.

Papa Bless ? Or Papa Flex ?

I hate that so much.

There is something frankly insulting
about him thinking

that everyone's gonna be happy
to simply forget his past

just because he's doing
wacky things on the internet.

That is why it's been reassuring to see
how some people have responded.

If you click to see if anyone
reacted to that TikTok,

you will see plenty of people making
disapproving faces or mocking him.

Or, in my favorite example, this man
captioning his disapproval with:

"Get off my feed
little racist pizza man."

"Your home is ugly
and you have bad taste."

Which is absolutely excellent.
And to that man, I say:

kudos for doing in 10 seconds what
has taken me five minutes to do.

That is our show.
We'll be back on July 19th.

Until then, good night !

No. No, absolutely not.

No, this isn't fun.
You're not being fun right now.

Papa stop.
Papa stop right now.

This is grotesque.
That doesn't even look heavy.