John Oliver Identifies 3 of Trump’s Worst Tactics in Last Week Tonight’s Season Finale
Yesterday was the season finale of Last Week Tonight, which John Oliver dedicated to a broader look at the Trump administration. More specifically, the host looked at the parasitic patterns of Trump’s behavior and his assault of “the norms governing how our leaders engage with us and how, in turn, that affects the way we engage with each other.” (There is still a short recap of the week, where the host also mentions Louis C.K.’s “completely indefensible” behavior and calls his now-cancelled film I Love You, Daddy “Exhibit A If This Ever Goes to Trial.”)
Oliver recalls some of the terrible moments this year, many of which we might’ve forgotten simply because one’s memory can only accommodate so many faux-pas, embarrassments, and shameful moments. “I honestly know the prospect of talking about trump again feels exhausting, we’re all so tired of him,” says the host, “Trump’s presidency is like one of his handshakes. It pulls you in whether you like it or not.” Still, despite the fact that the president’s speeches are more “drunk driver crashing a pickup truck full of alphabet soup” than language, Oliver identifies three main strategies Trump that are spreading like a bad rash: Delegitimizing the Media, Whataboutism, and Trolling.
Delegitimizing the media is relatively straight-forward, and something that we’ve seen since Trump first announced his candidacy. Whataboutism, an old Soviet propoganda tool, “implies that all actions, regardless of context, share a moral equivalency and since nobody is perfect, all criticism is hypocritical and everybody should do whatever they want.” We saw this quite a bit when Trump and those that support him had trouble denouncing Nazis. Even if you see a double standard, the host points out, “the solution is not to have no standard whatsoever”.
Finally, there’s trolling. While 80% of the internet, Oliver notes that the way that Trump manages to get negative reactions and incite mass confusion among reporters and well, anyone afraid of war, is incredibly popular among his supporters despite it being a piss-poor measure of success. “Sometimes, when you do something that makes a lot of people mad, it’s because—and bear with me here—you’re a dick”, says Oliver. “If you sneak into someone’s house and urinate in every heating vent and they get mad at you, you’re not an ‘epic troll sticking it to the snowflake cuck’, you’re just some fucking asshole.”
Of course, the president endorsing this kind of behavior means that we’re seeing it everywhere. After all, “If there is one thing worse than something terrible, it is a cover band of that terrible thing.” This is what makes this Last Week Tonight segment valuable. Recognizing when Trump and others do these things allows us to “decide what’s important, have an honest debate, and hold one another accountable.”
It’s not all hopelessness and anger though, as the host does identify some of the small victories we’ve had this year. Oliver likens our current state to a marathon: “It’s painful, it’s pointless and the majority of you didn’t even agree to run it—you were just signed up by your dumbest friend. And the fact is, we’re not even at mile 6 right now or possibly even mile 3, so there is a long way to go. And though you’re exhausted, and your whole body is screaming for you to give up, and your nipples are chafing for some reason, the stakes are too high for any of us to stop.”
Don’t worry about Last Week Tonight stopping though, as they’ll be airing commercials between Fox and Friends to teach Trump some very important information about coal, the US Virgin Islands, and “Just because Jared Kushner is smarter than you, doesn’t mean he’s smart.”
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