Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 7, Episode 9 - Coronavirus V - full transcript

John presented the latest installment on Corona Virus. He talks about how misinformation is hurting the entire population even the people who are trying to do the right things. The ...

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Welcome to the show,

which is still taking place
in this blank void:

TV's greatest celebration of whiteness
since "Frasier".

It's been another brutal week,

with the occasional bright spot,
like learning Judi Dench

is apparently doing TikTok dances
with her grandson over FaceTime.

Hard yes on that.
I think we all learned a lot there.

One, Judi Dench can hit the Woah
like a fucking pro.

Two, her grandson
might be Ed Sheeran.

And three, life's getting pretty weird
on earth right now.

But sadly,
we have to put all that aside

and turn straight to our main story
this week, various corn.

I thought we were gonna talk
about something depressing,

but instead... wait a minute !

Coronavirus, is that you ?
You sneaky little bugger !

I should have known.
It's always you, coronavirus !

You're an absolute nightmare !

The fact is, Covid-19 is still
dominating the news every day,

and it's hard to keep up
with all the information about it

to say nothing
of the misinformation.

Here's the myth: you need to microwave
your mail to kill the Covid-19 virus.

Mail is not food
and you can't cook it.

Garlic does have
some antimicrobial properties

but there is absolutely
no evidence that it kills Covid-19.

Adults are buying breast milk

because some believe that
it can protect them from Covid-19.

Do not buy breast milk to prevent
Covid. That is not gonna help you.

You should absolutely not be buying
other people's breast milk

to protect you
from the coronavirus.

Not only will it not work,
you're taking it away

from the babies and the perverts
who genuinely need it.

Bullshit regarding this virus is
widespread and people are acting on it.

We saw protests all over the country
against stay-at-home orders.

And some of the attendees,
like at Michigan's Operation Gridlock

seemed motivated
by very questionable information.

What about concerns for safety
and spreading this virus

and potentially killing more people ?

I think it's all hype.

We're against these big corporates

that are trying to rack in
all these dollars

who created the disease and now
want to make people pay for the cure.

The flu kills more people
than this does !

What's worrying about that,
other than absolutely everything,

is that you may have even heard
some of those arguments

from people you're related to
or people you love

which can, incidentally,
be two very distinct groups.

Polls show that, when asked about
the death rate, 40% of Americans

believe Covid-19 is less deadly
or just as deadly as the flu.

Which it's not.
It is many times deadlier.

Comparing the coronavirus
to the flu

is like comparing Jeffrey Dahmer
to O.J. Simpson.

I'm not saying O.J. is great,

I'm just saying he wouldn't have even
filled up Dahmer's vegetable drawer.

And bad information
is not only frustrating,

to the extent that it motivates people
to ignore stay-at-home measures,

it's both dangerous
and could actually end up

forcing us to stay at home
for longer.

If you are thinking, "How can people
possibly believe shit like that ?"

That's actually our story tonight:

the bad information
flying around about this virus

and the places
that people are getting it from.

Because there are a lot
of media bubbles out there

and getting a glimpse outside of the
one that you're in can be eye-opening.

For example, if you're not
a regular viewer of televangelist

and humble private jet farmer,
Kenneth Copeland,

you might now know that he took
care of Covid-19 weeks ago.

Covid-19 !

I blow...

... the wind of God...

... on you !

You are destroyed forever.

And you will never be back.

Setting aside his crew of the four
weeniest hype men of all time,

spitting all over the place
is not gonna cure anything.

Unless your plan is to give
the coronavirus the coronavirus,

in which case:
best of luck to you.

Although, I do understand why Copeland
is so determined to end this pandemic.

If I had few weeks until my tragically
obvious hair dye started to fade,

I'd be anxious that my colorist
be allowed to leave their home too.

Especially if I'd already
claimed on my actual website

that my unnaturally dark hair
at the age of 82

was simply the result
of standing in the mirror and saying,

"Glory to God.
Hair, grow dark brown."

"Thick be, in the Name of Jesus.
Bald spots, no !"

My point is: there's a lot at stake
here for Kenneth Copeland.

But the televangelist world
is just one of the many bubbles.

There's also an ecosystem
of conspiracy theories,

like the false belief that the virus
was caused by 5G networks

something that led people to set fire
to cell towers in the U.K. this month.

Which is just ridiculous,

although not as ridiculous
as the fact that those flaming towers

almost certainly still offered better
coverage than AT&T.

Oh, that's right, business daddy !

You thought a pandemic would
bring us together ? Of course not.

Our feud must be an essential
service 'cause it's still in business !

Seriously, though, B.D.:
I do hope you're safe and healthy.

I can't wait to talk to you
as soon as this is over

and as soon as I get more
than one bar of service.

But here in the U.S., one of the
biggest and most robust bubbles

is the right-wing mediasphere.

It's dominated by some enormously
powerful individuals,

not just on TV, but, importantly,
on conservative talk radio,

where the most powerful host
is undeniably Rush Limbaugh,

a man with millions of listeners,
a presidential Medal of Freedom,

and, almost certainly,
a room in his basement

that his housekeeper
isn't allowed to go into.

Even well into the outbreak,

Limbaugh has been spouting
some fabulously wrong information.

Here he is on March 11th.

This coronavirus ?
All of this panic is not warranted.

I'm telling you,
when I tell you,

when I've told you
that this virus is the common cold,

when I said that,
it was based on the number of cases.

It's also based
on the kind of virus this is.

Why do you think this is Covid-19 ?
This is the 19th coronavirus !

They're not uncommon.

No, Rush. Just no. No to you
claiming Covid-19 got its name

because it was
the "19th coronavirus".

It's called that because
it was first identified in 2019,

you gigantic potato.

But also, no to the virus
being the common cold.

No to this being "not uncommon".
No to your gold microphone.

No to your browser
being opened to "The Drudge Report".

No to your logo that looks like
two pairs of breasts are in a fight.

No to the mysterious
can on your desk

which I can only assume
is PAM Original Cooking Spray.

But most of all,
no to your stupid quarantine beard.

You look like if Santa was Me-Too'ed,
kicked out of the North Pole,

and forced to move to a condo
in Tampa with all-linoleum floors.

I hate it !

The problem is
many in conservative media

have found it easy
to fold this virus

into narratives that they've been
carefully building up for decades.

Limbaugh has spent years pushing
his "Four Corners of Deceit,"

which consist of government,
academia, science, and the media

which happen to be the four most
important groups to listen to

during a public health crisis.

And I understand
why he'd sow that doubt

if you establish your show
as the sole outlet worth trusting,

that gives you a lot of power.

And he's not alone
in utilizing that technique.

Fox News's recurrent pitch
to its audience

has been that it will tell you
the true story

that elites and the mainstream media
are trying to hide.

And that's how some of their hosts
played this virus initially

as a hysterical attack by the media
to derail the president,

with segments titled,
"Coronavirus Hysteria !",

"Liberal Media Hoax Backfires !", and
"Trump Confronts the Panic Pushers".

And when people started dying
and the argument became harder to sell,

the network seemed to pivot,
from trying to downplay the warnings,

to downplaying the deaths.

To date thankfully 0 people in the USA
have died from the coronavirus. Zero.

We have 6 deaths from the coronavirus,
18,000 deaths from the flu.

Nine people have died !
That's tragic but it's teeny !

22 people have been killed.

Those numbers pale in comparison
to the number of flu cases

over this flu season.

An estimated 60,000 Americans
will die from the coronavirus.

According to the CDC in 2018, 61,000
Americans died of the annual flu.

The fact of the matter is,
we have people dying

45,000 people a year
die from automobile accidents,

480,000 from cigarettes,

360,000 a year from swimming pools,
but we don't shut the country down.

Thanks, not-a-medical-Doctor Phil !

The annual U.S. death toll
from swimming pools

isn't actually 360,000.

They're not killing
almost a Cleveland every year.

The total number of drownings,
period, is around 4,000.

Also, if swimming pools
were killing 360,000 people a year

and you could contract a swimming
pool on a trip to the grocery store

we might want to think
about shutting them down

until we worked out
what the fuck was going on.

And a lot of people underestimated
the danger of this virus early on.

But Fox was still doing it,
not just as the death toll mounted,

but even as, behind the scenes,

their own company was suspending
non-essential business travel,

and encouraging employees to cancel
all in person meetings and summits,

and conduct business
via Skype or by phone.

Because they only pretend to believe
these things on television for money.

The problem is our current president
isn't the subject of this misinformation

he is, as we all know,
also the target of it,

often pulling his talking points
directly from what he sees.

Late last month,
a popular conservative narrative

became that it was time
to reopen the economy

and Fox's Steve Hilton
encapsulated it like this.

You know that famous phrase,
"the cure is worse than the disease" ?

That is the territory
we are hurtling towards.

I'm pretty sure Trump saw that,

because a couple of hours
after that segment aired,

he tweeted, "We cannot let the cure
be worse than the problem itself",

and the next day,
couldn't seem to stop saying it.

We cannot let the cure
be worse than the problem itself.

That's why I talk about the cure
being worse than the problem.

We can't have the cure
be worse than the problem.

When I say the cure, and the cure
can be worse than the problem itself.

That's what I...
we can't let that happen.

It's pretty depressing
to see the president

just parroting what he heard on TV
the night before.

And if he's gonna do that,
the very least he could do

is pick a better show than
Steve Hilton's "The Next Revolution".

Why not go
with "Below Deck Sailing Yacht" ?

That way, we'd get to hear
the President of the United States

tell us about how
Adam the chef is a tease,

and how Madison needs to understand
her role in the interior pecking order

and start listening to her chief stew,

because Jenna
does not need to take her shit.

Yes, it wouldn't be helpful
during a pandemic,

but at least
it wouldn't be actively harmful.

That is what is
infuriating here.

Even though Trump has access
to the country's top experts,

he's still getting advice
from watching TV.

And not just on talking points,
but on medicine.

Take hydroxychloroquine.

It's a drug used for conditions
like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

And it got a huge boost in mid-March
as a potential coronavirus treatment

from Tucker Carlson's show.

Early evidence suggests
that chloroquine,

a cheap antimalaria drug, may be
effective in treating coronavirus.

Gregory Rigano is an advisor at the
Stanford University School of Medicine,

and he joins us tonight.

A well-controlled,
peer-reviewed study carried out

by the most eminent infectious
disease specialist in the world

showed a 100% cure rite-cure rate
against coronavirus.

I only know what you're telling me,

but I do know it's very unusual
for a study of anything to pursuit

to produce results
of a hundred percent.

That's remarkable, isn't it ?
Or am I missing something ?

You're very much missing
something, Tucker.

That man's role as an advisor
to Stanford University

was news to Stanford,
who've since clarified,

"Gregory Rigano is not an advisor
with their school of medicine"

"and no one at Stanford
was involved in the study".

As for that "100% cure rate",

you should know they obtained that
by omitting three patients

who were transferred to an ICU
and one patient who died.

And it is very easy
to have a 100% success rate

if you just leave out
any result that wasn't a success.

Nevertheless, the very next day,

Trump publicly mentioned
hydroxychloroquine for the first time

and has since brought it up constantly,
with varying degrees of recklessness.

I hope that hydroxychloroquine wins.

What do you have to lose ?
I'll say it again !

I really think they should take it.

"What do you have to lose ?
Take it !"

What are you doing ?
You're the president,

not a mean sophomore trying
to pressure me into doing Adderall.

Also, in terms of what you have
to lose, possibly quite a bit,

as doctors are warning
the drug can trigger arrhythmia,

which can lead to a fatal heart attack
in certain patients.

That is not to say that this drug
shouldn't be studied. It should. It is.

But the feedback loop
between Fox and Trump

has run way ahead
of the science here.

In one two-week period,
Fox personalities and their guests

made claims promoting
hydroxychloroquine nearly 300 times,

with Laura Ingraham even visiting Trump
at the White House earlier this month

to advocate for the drug.

Thanks to this media frenzy,
the efficacy of this drug,

which should be a scientific issue,
has become a political one.

Anyone saying they want
more comprehensive studies

can be dismissed
by the right as a Trump hater.

If you argue that we shouldn't make
decisions based on anecdotal evidence,

Rush Limbaugh
has a ready response.

Anecdotally it's been pos...
Anecdotal ?

It just means it hasn't been
scientifically tested in mass numbers,

but it means it's working.

Anecdotally, I arrived at work
today. It means it happened.

Right. Anecdotally, you arrived
at work today, Rush.

That alone doesn't mean that
everyone arrived at work today,

or even that most people
arrived at work today.

It just means that you did.

There is a process for knowing
whether a scientific claim is true

and it involves testing and observing
results in a controlled setting,

rather than yelling your thoughts
confidently into C-3PO's penis.

I know it is easy to write off
Limbaugh as a right-wing blowhard,

but the reality is he draws
over 15 million listeners a week,

among the most loyal of whom
is the president,

who considers Limbaugh
a real-time metric

of how his decisions
are playing with his supporters.

And all this time, existing
patients with conditions like lupus

who have been taking
hydroxychloroquine for years,

are now struggling to get it.

One large health care provider
even wrote to lupus patients,

telling them that due
to a worldwide shortage,

it won't refill
their prescriptions, saying:

"Thank you for the sacrifice
you will be making".

I'd like nothing more than if this
was, somehow, a miracle cure.

But I can't say it is
and I can't say it isn't,

because it's still being tested
and I'm not a fucking doctor.

It might ! It could !
It's too soon to say !

The problem is "might" and "could"
aren't words that grab an audience.

That is why cable news often traffics
in bright, primary colors

and easy storylines.

Me telling you that we have to wait
for results

just isn't satisfying to hear
or to watch.

And throughout this crisis,
Fox has constantly presented

simple solutions
to complex problems.

Watch Sean Hannity formulate
a plan, seemingly in real-time,

for resuming baseball games
by testing every person in attendance

and having them wear PPE.

If it's my choice and I have to wear
gloves, a mask... Okay, I'll wear it.

I'd rather go and wear it.
If everyone else is wearing it,

we can suck it up for a couple
of months until things have passed.

Can't eat popcorn 'cause you have
to keep your mask off the whole time,

but you probably
could eat a hot dog.

You open up your respirator,
take a bite

and you chew it under your mask.

I have to drink my beer
if I'm at a game,

so if I have to use a straw
and slip it in, I'll do that.

I would rather have my temperature
taken, drink beer from a straw,

eat a hot dog by going like this
and chewing it in a mask

than not go at all, that's
my decision, you make yours.

I'm pro-choice.

Are you, really ?

Setting aside the pro-choice line,
you're right, Sean,

your body, your choice,
I don't see a single flaw in that.

you couldn't eat popcorn.

But you could get a hot dog in your
mouth before the virus could sneak in.

That's just science.
Anecdotally, I know a guy

who ate a hot dog once
and didn't get coronavirus,

so that absolutely checks out.

While that's almost
incomprehensibly stupid,

you can't deny: it's good TV.

The skills required to produce TV
and to govern are very different.

And unfortunately,

we have a president who doesn't
seem to know the difference.

At the start of his presidency,
he famously told top aides

to think of each presidential day
like an episode of a television show

in which he vanquishes rivals.

We have a network and a president
who thrive on division,

feeding on one another,
at a time when we desperately need

a unified response
to a public health crisis.

And all that brings us back
to the protests we discussed earlier.

Hundreds of people have taken
to the streets this week,

fueled by the kind of misinformation
rampant in right-wing media,

the same right-wing media

which then eagerly covered the protests
that they helped create, like this.

Protests popping up
all across America

as some fed-up folks are demanding
an end to stay at home orders.

They got in front of the Governor's
Residence in St. Paul yesterday.

They referenced things
like President Trump's statement

that the cure cannot
be worse than the disease.

"The cure can't be worse than
the disease" isn't Trump's statement,

he stole that phrase
from you guys !

You shouldn't be crediting him
with that,

you should be charging him
with copyright infringement.

And like clockwork, Trump,
just a few minutes after that segment

highlighted groups
like "Liberate Minnesota",

tweeted out:

followed by "LIBERATE MICHIGAN !",

All of this is legitimately dangerous
because watching coverage like that

might convince Trump that there's
a sizeable portion of the population

that wants to go back to work
no matter the cost.

But that's not currently the case.
66 percent of Americans say

they are more concerned restrictions
will be lifted too quickly

than too slowly.

It's frankly remarkable
that number is so high,

after weeks of this bullshit.

I get Trump, Fox, and those protestors
wanting all of this to be over.

I do too. I want people
to be able to get back to work

and to get some sense
of normalcy restored.

But for what it's worth, I know
people who've died from this.

I also know people who are taking

because they think
it will give them immunity.

I know people with lupus who are
down to their last few weeks of pills.

And it makes me fucking furious.

Because the fact is,
the fastest way for this to be over

is for all of us to remain united
in this very difficult task.

But the only way that happens
is if we have trusted,

well-informed leadership,
which unfortunately, we don't.

Instead, we have a compulsive liar
constantly listening to voices

telling him that this is nothing more
than the common cold

with potentially
a 100 percent cure available,

and that there's already
a great plan to restart baseball

even as there's a swimming pool
killing spree that, for some reason,

nobody's talking about.

While there are no easy solutions

to make this irresponsible
media magically disappear,

I guess there's one trick
we haven't tried yet,

so if you'll excuse me,
here it goes.

Right-wing media !

I blow on you !

Did that work ? No ? Everything's
still a fucking nightmare ?

Well, it was worth a shot.
What did I have to lose ?

And now, this.

An All-Coronavirus Installment
of Coming Up On "Inside Edition".

With the world in crisis.

Why so many see the Covid-19
pandemic as a sign of the apocalypse.

SpaghettiO's big comeback.


How far can a single sneeze go ?

Potential germ splatter.

Then !
Where'd everybody go ?

Plus, let the wedding go on

with guests
made out of cardboard.

Then, are these beautiful beaches
spreading the virus ?

Could each wave
be like a giant sneeze ?

Does toilet paper really have a calming
effect during the coronavirus crisis ?

Get away from the window !

How not to go stir-crazy
in coronavirus quarantine.

Then, how nuts is this ?
Plus, books ! Remember those ?

Moving on. Before we go, I know
TV shows are looking different now.

Late-night shows are having
to do it from home.

And wrestlers are beating each other
in front of rows of empty chairs.

I would argue that no one
is handling this situation better

than Wendy Williams.

If you don't know who she is, here
is a taste of her show, pre-pandemic.

He's so weak, I don't even understand
how she gets moist for him.

Look, if anyone acts crazy,
just let's jump 'em. Okay ?

I have never farted
once on this show.

As a matter of fact,
I barely fart. You know why ?

Because gas gets released
several different ways.

Now, here's the thing,
that gas fact is true.

It comes out in lots of ways,
farts and burps ! That's science !

Which technically makes
Wendy's show educational.

There is nothing that she can't do.

And even though Wendy
is now stuck at home,

she's been producing some
spectacular content,

although, at first, she didn't seem
sure that she wanted to be doing it.

Here is a clip from the first
installment of "Wendy At Home"

and you should know,
we didn't add the splice

you're about to see,
it was in the original cut.

The show convinced me that

"Maybe, Wendy, while we're off,
reruns aren't enough"

and I'm like: "Where do you
expect to do stuff ?"

"I'm not leaving the house.
I'm not getting sick".

I feel better than I ever have...
Orangina, by the way.

I'm not leaving the house.

So, what do you want to do...
Just show up and do stuff.

Holy shit. She's sharing a screen

with a life-sized Betty Boop
decked out in Supreme gear,

Chanel accessories
and a disco ball,

and somehow she is still
the most engrossing thing in that shot,

simply eating a lamb chop
in a weirdly dominant manner.

Not many people
can pull that off.

Our original background was gonna be
a gray wall, but we had to lose it

after everyone agreed
it was more interesting than I was.

But even once Wendy settled in,

she still had to deal with some
minor technical problems.

Ok, number one.

Number two, you know,
you pay for that kind of service.

With some extra sharp cheese.
Now, here we are.

By the way, in case you hear
some chirping during our broadcast,

just know that I've been dealing
with a broken smoke detector

for the past one month.

And me and Chitchat and Myway are
so used to it, we're desensitized.

How can you be desensitized
to that, Wendy ?

The whole purpose
of a smoke detector's beep

is to irritate you
into letting it save your life,

especially if you live in
the world's most flammable apartment.

If you're wondering, by the way,
who "Chitchat" and "Myway" are,

they're actually Wendy's cats.

And a fun thing about them is that
whenever she calls for them,

they refuse to come.

The cats have not appeared one time
since I've been down here.

Chitchat, Myway ! Get down here !
This is your chance !

You girls love a good camera.

There's nothing surprising about cats
not coming when they're called.

You've never seen any cats on this
show and I have 28 of them.

Watch. Milk Dud ! Domino !
Guster ! Jefferson ! Opus !

Stanley ! Clown Car !
Becky ! Allison ! Deborah !

Gus ! Gus 2 ! Gus 3: The Final Gus !
Gus 4: A New Begussining !

Daniel Craig the Cat !
Gumdrop ! Mr. Pretty Whiskers !

Bluebell ! Amelia ! Reginald !
Strawberry ! Floofy Nummy Butterkins !

John Junior ! Stripey ! Noodles !
DiCatbe Mutombo !

Dikembe Catombo ! Frank !

See ? Nothing.
But the more you watch Wendy,

the more that you realize that chaos
isn't a problem with the show,

it's what makes it work.

The show is just Wendy at home,
expressing every thought in her head,

occasionally taking calls
and being sporadically interrupted

by a smoke alarm
which simply needs new batteries.

And unapologetically eating
increasingly weird meals on-camera.

Yes, chocolate licorice,
the breakfast of champions.

100 percent glitter
but a real pickle.

A little caviar and some Doritos.
This brings me up high,

this keeps me exactly
where I need to be.

Bacon, bleu cheese,

both smothered
by hot sauce and maple syrup.

You don't want to see me eat ?
Then you might not wanna be here.

This is what people do.

Is that what people do ?
I get that people do eat,

it's just not usually at the same time
that they're hosting a talk show

and telling anyone watching
to fuck off if they don't like it.

This isn't what people do. This is
what Wendy Williams does,

because Wendy Williams has ascended
to a level of fucks-not-given

that no human
has ever achieved before.

I was never a regular viewer of
"The Wendy Williams Show",

but I've become a big fan
of "Wendy At Home".

It's an oasis of truth
in a world full of lies.

It's a real pickle atop
a fake hamburger, if you will.

That is why it has cheered me up
so much to watch Wendy embrace

the glorious chaos
in her madcap apartment.

I wanted to find a way to repay her.

Unfortunately, I don't have
any hypebeast Betty Boop accessories.

But once again, in my time of need,
Wendy has provided the answer.

It came after she played a clip
of two women, Tiny and Shekinah,

who had been defending
Bill Cosby.

Bill Cosby needs to stay in jail
for all his years.

I don't know
what these girls are talking about.

But I was too distracted
by Tiny's onesie.

I need that in my life.

There are only
but so many poofs I have.

I need that onesie in my life !

Wendy's right.
She does deserve that onesie.

How would you even go
about finding it for her ?

There are no leads in that clip.
And even if you could find it,

leisurewear is sold out
everywhere right now,

because of, you know,

Luckily, we have a tenacious research
team and a production department

that can assemble
the world's biggest cake

and stage a musical
in the middle of Times Square.

And when you ask them:

"Can you track down this star-spangled
onesie for Wendy Williams ?"

You know what they do ?
First, they flag that Wendy is wrong,

it's not actually a onesie,
it's a two-piece sweatsuit.

And then,
then you know what they do ?

They track that fucking thing down.
So here you go, Wendy,

this sweatsuit is for you.

Just tell us where to send it
and wear it in good health.

And please, don't you ever stop
eating on camera.

That's our show. Thanks so much
for watching. Good night !

If this makes you uncomfortable,

you might want to fuck off
and watch something else.