Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 7, Episode 7 - One America News Network - full transcript

This week John talks about the news media especially about a particular network. One America News network is not a well known neither a respected network but it is getting great reviews ...

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Hello there ! And welcome to another
of these slightly strange shows.

Thanks for joining me again
in my empty white void.

For those who are wondering,
I chose this color myself

it's called "whale jizz"
and I think it's elegant,

and also a perfect wall for a vintage
piece of Pennsylvania rat erotica.

We may actually have
a lead on that painting.

Watch this space
for some good news soon.

Anyway, it has obviously been
another long, difficult week.

The coronavirus
is still dominating the news.

We're all handling isolation
in different ways.

Jeremy Renner has decided
that now is the perfect time for him

to release his debut EP of songs,
titled "The Medicine".

Have I heard it ? No.

I haven't entered the "Let's Give Jeremy
Renner's Album an Honest Chance"

stage of self-quarantine yet,

and I hope that I don't get there,
because it sounds like this.

I never said I was sorry.

I ain't sorry.

Never sorry.

I hate this moment
in human history so much.

This was also the week
that Donald Trump

seemed to at least temporarily
acknowledge how dire this situation is.

He held a press conference
announcing that this virus

could kill between
a hundred and 240,000 Americans

quickly adding that,
had he done nothing,

there could've been over two million
deaths, and then saying this.

If we can hold that down to 100,000,
it's a horrible number,

maybe even less, but to 100,000;

so we have
between 100 and 200,000

we all, together,
have done a very good job.

Okay, setting aside the fact
that leading disease forecasters

are mystified at how Trump
got to those figures,

trying to spin 200,000
deaths as a "good job",

because it's not millions,

is the most callous way to minimize
the deaths of Americans imaginable,

were it not for the fact that Trump
responded to 9/11-on 9/11

by pointing out
that he used to own

the second-tallest building
in downtown Manhattan,

and now he owned the tallest.

And the thing is, that wasn't
just offensive, it wasn't even true.



And for the record,

deaths in the hundreds of thousands
were not inevitable here.

The federal response, under Trump,
has actively made things worse,

particularly the botched
rollout of testing

that continues to undermine almost
every effort to contain this virus.

And yet,
Trump has repeatedly suggested

that it's the states' responsibility
to fix things

an attitude which reached its apex
on Thursday, when Jared Kushner

a man who looks less like someone
who could handle a global pandemic

and more like an alt-right Pinocchio
suggested that states should not count

on a federal stockpile
of medical supplies.

The notion of the federal stockpile
was it's supposed to be our stockpile.

It's not supposed to be states'
stockpiles that they then use.

Wait. Our stockpile ?
It's not your stockpile.

It's a national stockpile for use by
the United States, you fucking moron.

And here's the interesting thing
about the United States:

it's almost entirely made of states.

There's states everywhere !
I'd say more than 40 of them, Jared !

And some parts of them badly
need supplies right now,

like the city
that you used to live in,

and in which I pray you never show
your polished fucking face again.

So, with states being left to pick up
the federal government's slack,

your fate may come down now
to how good your governor is.

Some have done well-Gavin Newsom
in California and Mike DeWine in Ohio

both started canceling public events
in early March.

Others, like Andrew Cuomo in New York,
have aggressively managed the crisis,

although he has been dragging his feet

on mitigating the spread within
New York's jails and prisons.

Which is not ideal. Nor is the fact that
he wore a white polo shirt this week,

that forced us all to consider
whether or not he has nipple rings.

And if he does, at least he's handling
this public health crisis fairly well,

even as he handles
a midlife crisis very poorly.

But other governors
have been actively irresponsible.

Mounting pressure
on the governors

who have refused
to issue stay-at-home orders.

Georgia held out
until earlier this week,

the governor
insisting he only now learned

that people without symptoms
could spread the disease.

Finding out that this virus is now
transmitting before people see signs,

those persons could've been infecting
people before they ever felt bad,

we didn't know that
until the last 24 hours.

No, you didn't know that
until the last 24 hours.

Most of the rest of us have
known that since February.

That information, much like Covid-19,
has spread around a bit since then.

But honestly,
the person I feel worst for there,

other than every Georgian,
is Kemp's interpreter.

Because having to communicate harmful
nonsense is a waste of his talents.

This guy here is an artist.
You need proof ?

Here he is interpreting
a Beyoncé song at Atlanta Pride.

Slay, king !
Call me an asymptomatic carrier

because that performance
is living inside me right now.

And Kemp's isn't the worst
reasoning for inaction.

Alabama's governor Kay Ivey resisted
calls for statewide stay-at-home orders

until just a couple of days ago,
citing one simple truth.

We aren't California,
we are not New York.

I do not believe our economy
needs a full shelter-in-place order

as some other states have done,
not at this time, hopefully not ever.

Now, I'll give her this:
Alabama isn't California or New York.

It is, of course, Alabama,
a state whose flag says,

"We're working on it," whose seal
says, "This is where Alabama is,"

and whose "State Facts" page
on FiftyStates-dot-com

is just, and this is true,
50 facts about Indiana.

Which is ridiculous,

because there are clearly lots
of interesting facts about Alabama.

One is that it has a higher growth rate
in coronavirus cases than California.

Governor, maybe that graph
should be on your flag !

Isn't learning fun ?

But the worst gubernatorial response
has come from Florida's Ron DeSantis

what you'd get if a sexual harassment
allegation fucked a Toyota Camry.

Florida saw an explosion of cases
throughout the month of March,

which is especially alarming in a state
where 1 in 5 residents are over 65.

But DeSantis continued to suggest

he would only issue a statewide order
if the president told him to.

So, it was often up to counties
to set their own policies,

which has some pretty
obvious shortcomings,

perhaps best summed up
by this photo of a Florida beach

in which you can see the line between
one county that had closed its beaches,

and one that hadn't.

This may surprise you,
but drawing a line in the sand

isn't actually
an effective public health strategy.

And even when DeSantis finally
did the right thing this week,

he still managed to fuck it up.

In Florida, a stay-at-home order
going into effect today,

but only after
Governor Ron DeSantis

offered an exception
for religious services.

I don't think the government
has the authority to close a church.

That's even stupider than it sounds.

Because DeSantis not only exempted
churches from bans on large gatherings,

he also exempted them
from social distancing requirements,

and made it impossible for localities
even in hot spots-to override him.

Which is clearly dangerous. You are
not protected from the coronavirus

just because you're in church.

We don't say,
"Bless you" after people sneeze

to thank God for catching the sneeze

and throwing it in germ jail
with all the other sneezes.

That's not a service God provides.

The problem is, as a nation,
our success in containing Covid-19

is only going to be as good
as our worst governor,

especially with the federal government
abdicating so much responsibility.

That is what is so infuriating here.

It is hard to think of a way to fully
express the quandary that we're in,

but Jared Kushner may inadvertently
have summed it up the best.

What a lot of the voters
are seeing now

is that when you elect somebody to be
a mayor or a governor or a president,

you're trying to think about who will be
a competent manager during a crisis.

This is a crisis, you're seeing certain
people are better managers than others.

Yeah, no shit, Jared. Certain people
are better managers than others.

And unfortunately,
it seems certain other people

are content to sit back
and watch the bad ones

make decisions
that will cost people's lives,

all in the hopes that Americans will
learn a valuable lesson while dying.

I know Jared Kushner must have
a stockpile of empathy somewhere,

but it appears
that that's his empathy

and he's not allowed
to extend it to anyone else.

And now this !

And Now:
Are You Wearing Pants ?

We hang out at Ben's place, then
we go to Bernie's house for a while...

I'm wondering if either of them
are wearing pants.

- I do have a question for you.
- Yes ?

Are you wearing pants ?

- Kim, what are you wearing ?
- Let's see.

I am wearing pants.

I have pants on today, yes.

Yes. Yes, yes. You're just gonna
have to take my word on that

'cause I'm not standing up.

The question is:
are you wearing pants ?

Are you wearing pants ?

Party on the bottom ?

Are you wearing pants, Code ?

I am not !

I'm sort of down on this
social distancing right here.

I have a 30-second commute
into the office this morning.

Thank you, Steve.

Are you wearing pants ?

Becky, we don't have
to talk about that.

But let's be clear:
the whole suit doesn't have to go on.

Let's be clear.

Are they really tight ?
Getting tighter, Steve ?

Moving on. Our main story tonight
concerns the news media.

The people who announced to the world
that man had landed on the moon,

World War II had ended,
and who will one day

announce my tragic death
after a pelican swallows me whole.

I love corn dogs, the pier,
and taunting large birds.

It's only a matter of time.

Trump has made no secret
of his disdain for the media,

but he's also been holding a lot
of press conferences recently,

which has highlighted the fact

there is one media outlet
he seems to really enjoy calling on.

Okay. A couple of questions.
Go ahead, OAN ?

We'll take a few questions.
Emerald, OAN ?

OAN, please, OAN ?


Yes, sir.

- Thank you. I have two questions.
- You treat me very nicely.

Instinctively, you know that when
Trump likes something that much,

it's an immediate red flag.

Take this capybara
with an orange on its head.

It seems excellent,
but if Trump were to repeatedly say,

"I love that capybara
with an orange on its head,"

you know we're about to find out

all the times
that it wore blackface in college.

OAN stands for "One America News",

and when you hear
the kinds of questions that they ask,

you begin to see
why Trump calls on them so much.

Your approval ratings have been
the highest they've ever been,

as well as the ratings
on your handling of the virus.

Yet, there are some networks
that are saying they're debating

whether or not
to carry these briefings live.

Do you think
there's a link between the two ?

I don't know.... Boy, a nice question !
Thank you very much.

Was that a nice question, though ?

I guess it depends
on what your definition of one is.

If a nice question is meant to extract
any useful information at all,

then it wasn't nice.

If it's one that makes the president
feel happy for a brief instant

before that feeling,
like all feelings, is swallowed up

by the unfathomable void
that yawns within him always,

then yeah,
it was a very nice question !

OAN has a lot of nice questions
for the president.

When he was criticized for referring to
the coronavirus as "the Chinese virus"

one of their correspondents rushed
to his defense with this beauty.

Do you consider the term
"Chinese food" racist

because it's food that originates
in China or it has Chinese origins ?

I don't think it's racist at all.

On that note, major left-wing
news media, even in this room,

have teamed up with Chinese
Communist Party narratives

and they're claiming
you're a racist

for making these claims
about "Chinese virus".

Is it alarming that major
media players just oppose you

are consistently siding
with foreign state propaganda,

Islamic radicals,
and Latin gangs and cartels

and they work at the White House with
direct access to you and your team ?

It's pretty wild to watch the reactions
of the other journalists there,

who are clearly not used to getting
bullshit from both sides of the room.

That is a look that says,

"How did I wind up in the middle
of this asshole sandwich ?"

It's moments like that that explain why
Trump has such a love affair with OAN.

He has repeatedly praised them
on Twitter.

When he didn't like Shep Smith's
coverage of his administration,

he tweeted that Shep Smith has
the lowest rated show on Fox News.

"Actually, whenever possible,
I turn to OAN !"

And his family seem like fans, too.

In the midst of a pandemic,
OAN spent nearly 15 minutes

chatting with Don Jr.,
resulting in this fantastic exchange.

Are you binge watching
anything over there ?

You gotta be
binge watching something.

We basically watched
"Tiger King" in two sittings.

It's sort of amazing
and I'm just really disappointed

that I didn't know you could get
a tiger for two grand.

It's a lot of money
but like, it's a tiger.

That would have been cool to have
had a tiger hanging around the house.

That should absolutely not be your
takeaway after watching that show !

Tigers are surprisingly cheap.

Also, it turns out you can also hire
a hitman for $3 000 ! What a deal !

OAN is a relatively
small organization

but you may well know someone
who watches them

and they're punching way
above their weight right now.

If they're in the White House press
room, being called on all the time

and are more supportive
of the president than Fox,

we thought tonight
it may be worth taking a look

at who they are
and what they do.

OAN is the brainchild
of Robert Herring,

conservative millionaire
and sun-dried Jake Gyllenhaal.

And since its birth, OAN has been
a home for extreme conservatism.

How extreme ?
Well, let's meet their hosts.

For starters, there's Graham Ledger,

who's called Black Lives Matter
a criminal organization,

he's called being transgender
a mental problem

and said of people coming to the U.S.
from majority-Muslim countries,

"if they won't take a bite out
of a pulled pork sandwich,"

"we probably
won't let them in the country."

It's wit like that that makes him

the Noël Coward of meat
sandwich-based race baiting.

He starts every show
with his signature catchphrase:

"The doors to the newsroom
are locked,"

"and the p.c. police
are not getting in,"

and if that wasn't sweaty enough,
he ends every show like this.

"The Daily Ledger" is on its way
to the Archives Library of Congress.

Thank you for watching.
I'm Graham Ledger.

And remember,
even when I'm wrong, I'm right.

he signs off that way every night.

And for the record,
we asked the Library of Congress

whether "The Daily Ledger" is sent
to its archives, and they told us,

and I quote: they "have no record
of 'The Daily Ledger' being submitted,"

"nor have we received the shows
as a collection."

Getting into the Library of Congress
isn't remotely impressive.

You know what's in there ?
"Jersey Shore" is in there !

"MILF Chronicles 4: Busty Mansions"
is in there !

Even our show is in there !
This is our listing in their catalog.

What I'm saying is,
you wouldn't be keeping great company,

even if you were in there,
which you're not.

Then, of course,
there's his catchphrase:

"Even when I'm wrong,
I'm right."

Which is even stupider.
Why would you want to say something

that implies that
you're both shamelessly partisan

and wrong a not-insignificant
part of the time ?

It'd make just as much sense
if his catchphrase was:

"Remember, even after I have explosive
diarrhea, I'm still full of shit."

Why would you admit
either of those things ?

But it might actually be good

that Ledger specifies
his rightness-even-inwrongness,

because he is wrong a lot, and always
with a certain Ron Burgundy flair.

Watch as he tries to dismantle
Bernie Sanders' rhetoric.

Unfettered capitalism is what
we should desire in this country.

Unfettered capitalism
is what made this country great

in the Industrial Revolution.

Carnegie and...

... the other men that built
this country in the late 1800s,

I'm blanking. JP Morgan !
The rest of them.

Rockefeller ! There's a name.

Yeah, there is a name !
Nice save, Graham !

That's the kind of erudite historical
insight that you can find in his book:

"The Industrial Revolution:
How Andrew Carnegie"

"and the Rest of Them,
JP Morgan, and others..."

"The Monopoly Man, Maybe ?
That's a Name..."

"Built America Through Unfettered
Capitalism. Shit, and Henry Ford !"

But Ledger isn't
the network's only bright light.

You already know Chanel Rion,
OAN's White House reporter,

whose speciality seems to be

asking the questions that
are on absolutely nobody's minds.

2 405 Americans have died from
coronavirus in the last 60 days.

Meanwhile, you have 2 369 children
who are killed by their mothers

through elective abortions
each day.

That's 16-and-a-half-thousand
children killed every week.

Okay, that's obviously
a rhetorical bad faith argument,

but what the hell, let's engage.

There are thousands of abortions
and thousands of coronavirus deaths.

We can disagree on whether those
things are equivalent, they're not,

but if only one of them is growing
exponentially every single day,

that should probably be the one that
we focus on right the fuck now.

But, by all means,
come back to that question

once abortions become
involuntary and wildly contagious.

When Chanel Rion isn't asking
nice questions

in the White House press room,
she also claims to be

the "best political illustrator
in the country"

"for constitutional conservative
and anti-leftist causes",

which, to be fair,
is a very low bar to clear,

yet I'm not sure if this drawing of
Rachel Maddow as "Wretched Madcow"

even manages to get over it.

She also runs
a word of the day website

called "Wordeby's:
A World of Fine Words",

featuring artful tributes to floral
language like metanoia, orphic

and backfeifengesicht,
which apparently means

"a face badly in need
of a punching".

Her About page explains that:

"If we don't nurture
and grow our WORD REALMS,"

"we don't nurture and grow

And it's hard to know how
to describe a sentence like that.

Thankfully, Wordeby's
has an entry on Fanfaronade,

which means
"empty self-promoting language".

That seems to hit the nail
right on the head.

This website is so handy !

Then, there is Liz Wheeler,
who's a big Trump favorite.

And she can develop an argument.

Just watch as,
over the course of 54 seconds,

she spins
an aquarium's simple decision

not to announce
the gender of a baby penguin

into something very different.

We should ask: where does radical
leftist gender ideology lead ?

Do liberals want human children
to be genderless ?

If so, why ?
Is this based on biology ?

And if not, then what ?

What happens when human
children are raised genderless ?

If gender is destroyed, doesn't that
destroy traditional gender roles ?

And if gender roles are destroyed,

doesn't that destroy
gendered relationships ?

And if gendered relationships
are destroyed,

doesn't that destroy
traditional marriage ?

If traditional marriage is destroyed,
doesn't that destroy the family unit ?

And if people aren't dependent
on their families,

then who do they depend on ?

That's right, the government,

which is the goal
of liberals in the first place.

Don't let transgender penguins
fool you.

That argument is a walk.

I assume that she uses that same
chain argument logic for everything.

Ask yourself: why do radical leftists
want to expand health insurance ?

Do liberals want everyone to have
health? And if everyone has health,

doesn't that mean
no one will ever die ?

And if no one ever dies, doesn't that
mean Hitler would still be alive ?

And if Hitler is still alive, isn't
World War II still happening ?

And if World War II
is still happening,

doesn't that mean
our troops are still fighting ?

And if our troops are still
busy fighting in World War II,

who's defending America
from terrorists ?

That's right, no one, which is the goal
of liberals in the first place.

Don't let polyamorous
lobsters fool you.

It's not just hard-right
talking points,

the network has actively given
airtime to conspiracy theories.

They put up a $100 000 reward for
information on Seth Rich's murder,

last year they traveled
with Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine

to shoot a multi-part series featuring
his investigations there,

and recently,
Chanel Rion hosted a special

in which she boosted
a conspiracy theory

that the coronavirus might have
originated as a bioweapon

in a North Carolina laboratory.

The whole selling point for OAN

is that they are Fox News with even
less shame and even fewer scruples.

In fact, they're so flagrantly
smitten with Trump

that at one point, their network
account actually tweeted:

"President Trump gave a speech,
thanking his supporters in the media."

"Not a single mention
of One America News"

"one of his greatest supporters..."

"OAN calls bullshit."

And that is just pathetically thirsty.

They shift from fawning
praise to sullen fury

if people stop complimenting them
for a single second.

When you put it like that,
you do kind of get

what OAN and the president
see in each other.

I know that it is easy to dismiss OAN
as just a stupid,

borderline self-parody.

The problem is, if we're learning
one thing right now,

it's that toxic things that start small
can get big fast

and it's dangerous
to ignore them.

The president's putting a lot
of energy into boosting OAN's profile.

For instance, last week,

even as the number of confirmed
coronavirus cases in the U.S.

passed 65 000,
Trump thought it was important

that his Twitter followers
see this video.

Guess what ? Thanks to you guys,
this book, my book, is number four

on Amazon's bestseller list
in the political commentary category.

Thank you, thank you so much.

Yeah, he retweeted that
with the note:

"Buy the book and give Liz
some Great Reviews !"

Which would
absolutely be weird enough

even if Liz Wheeler hadn't posted
that video last August.

And we all know the rules here,
liking someone's post is fine.

Liking someone's post
from seven months ago

is the creepiest thing on earth.

Trump has had
their back in other ways.

Just this week, the White House
Correspondents' Association

revoked OAN's access
to a seat in the briefings.

The reason they did this
was because most reporters

had agreed to take turns
attending to keep the room emptier

and follow social distancing rules.

But Chanel Rion repeatedly showed up
on days she wasn't assigned a seat.

Yet despite having her seat
revoked on Wednesday,

Rion was back in that room
the very next day,

telling people that she'd been
personally invited

as a guest
of the White House press secretary.

And that is a problem.
Because in the best of times,

you can laugh at an almost
"Anchorman"-esque parody

of right-wing news.

But much like the problem
with "Anchorman 2",

it's just not the right time
for Ron Burgundy right now.

OAN's weird combination
of far right-wing talking points

and dirt-stupid reporting
is dangerous at a time like this.

Graham Ledger has explicitly
called for Americans

to defy the government's
advice on social distancing

and has justified
his argument like this.

I would rather die of coronavirus
a free person

than live like a slave
to government engulfed in fear,

panic and with no liberty.

"The Daily Ledger" is on its way
to the Archives Library of Congress.

Thank you for watching.
I'm Graham Ledger.

And remember, even when
I'm wrong, I'm right.

Honestly, as monumentally dumb
as that catchphrase is,

it still might be too smart
for Graham Ledger.

He deserves a catchphrase more
on his intellectual level,

maybe something like:

"I'm Graham Ledger. And remember,
anything can be food if you eat it."

Incidentally, that is just the tame,
TV version of Graham Ledger.

Online, he's even worse. Watch
a video that he posted on Tuesday

in which he claimed that it was
important that he get his hair cut

and framed it as a brave act
of civil disobedience.

You know what we have to do
because we're living under an edict

not unlike Hitler's Germany
or Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union,

we're living under tyranny
instead of liberty ?

We have to do this
in clandestine style.

My hairdresser could be fined and
or arrested for what she's doing.

This is not unlike, of course,

what they had to live through
during Hitler's time.

Okay, a couple things there.

First of all, it's not essential
that you get your hair cut.

People on TV don't always
look well-groomed. Trust me.

Trust me. Look at me !
Trust me.

Hitler didn't outlaw haircuts.

He was a fascist about personal
grooming, other stuff too,

but mainly that.

And third, if we were living
under a Nazi occupation,

maybe don't film yourself en route
to your secret resistance salon,

which it took literally five minutes
on Google to figure out

is presumably somewhere around
the Moonlight Plaza Shopping Center

in Encinitas, California.

The problem here is, the kind
of misinformation OAN is spewing

could end up
getting people killed.

Sadly, their message is being
actively spread by the White House.

So, it is more important than ever
to be on the lookout for OAN's bullshit

and to make sure no one that
you know is falling for it either.

I know that just calling it "bullshit"
may seem crude,

so for all of those of you who might
desire a more eloquent plea,

let me offer some language from
Rion's website, Wordeby's.

In this vespertine hour, I implore you
to ignore a news network

that attempts to gloze this
administration's ineptitude

during a pandemic, whether it be
a sciolist like Liz Wheeler,

a backfeifengesicht
like Graham Ledger

or a rakefire like Chanel Rion.

For these people
are not just irresponsible, my friends,

they're a bunch
of fucking fopdoodles.

That is our show.
Thank you so much for watching.

We will see you next week.
I'm John Oliver

and this edition is,
for some reason,

on its way
to the Library of Congress.

Don't let bi-curious manatees
fool you, goodnight !

And that feels like a show.