John Oliver speaks about OAN on Last Week Tonight.

John Oliver Explains Just How Gross, Dangerous, and “Pathetically Thirsty” Trump’s Favorite News Network Is

Nope, it's not Fox News.

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During Donald Trump’s daily coronavirus press briefings, he frequently gets into arguments with reporters, accusing them of asking “nasty” questions and trying to tear him down in order to boost their own ratings. In reality, those “nasty” questions are nearly always perfectly reasonable, if challenging. But Trump doesn’t like to be challenged. He likes to be praised. And that’s why there’s one presence in those briefings that he absolutely loves: OAN.

OAN is One America News, a network that somehow manages to more sycophantic and propagandizing than even Fox News. The network is extremely far-right but even more than that, they’re virulently anti-left. When given the chance to ask a question, their White House correspondent doesn’t just fawn over Trump, she frequently takes the opportunity to bash other journalists and their coverage of him. OAN once ran a segment about how “transgender penguins” are a sign that liberals want the government to have too much power.

John Oliver went into all of this in the last episode of Last Week Tonight, which I’m finally starting to get used to not having an audience. The lack of live reactions is still strange but his insights into *gestures vaguely at everything* are beyond worth the weird brief pauses where laughs should go.

OAN is one of those tough-call subjects where they’re small enough that you think if you ignore them, they should just go away–a “stupid, little-watched, borderline self-parody,” as Oliver calls it. And you just know OAN is revelling in the attention HBO and write-ups like this one have given them.

But on the other hand, they’re clearly winning Trump over with their “pathetically thirsty” tweets and their obsequious briefing room questions. Trump and his team love them, to the point where when their White House reporter was denied access to a briefing (not because of cEnSoRsHiP, but because they’re trying to stagger the days reporters are admitted in order to practice some degree of social distancing and she just kept showing up on days she wasn’t assigned a seat), she said she was invited in as a personal guest of the White House press secretary.

So sure, the inclination might be to ignore this actual-fake-news network and hope they go away. But, as Oliver reminds us, if there’s one thing we should be learning from our current situation, it’s that “toxic things that start small can get big fast and it’s dangerous to ignore them.”

Too true.

Watch the full segment above. It’s upsetting but important to keep an eye on hateful, self-serving sycophants like these in times of crisis like this one.

(image: screencap)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.