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Last Week Tonight Finally Returns and Of Course There Was Only One Thing John Oliver Was Going to Talk About

The last time Last Week Tonight was on our televisions was November 13th–just after the election–which means we’ve had to go through the entire inaugural lead-up as well as the last “412 years” (or 3+ weeks, if you believe actual time, rather than how it seems to pass in our souls), all without the help of John Oliver’s brutally blunt guidance.

So in the first episode of the show’s fourth season, there was only one thing Oliver was going to talk about. Where the show normally dedicates the majority of its time to a single deep-dive into a thorough examination of a complex issue, this week, that deep dive was focused on something a little harder to tackle: the concept of reality itself. Because we can disagree about issues, of course, but suddenly we’re all living in a world where what we seem to disagree about is the very nature of our reality. And, as Oliver puts it when discussing Trump’s place in how he engages with news, facts, and the world in general, “Reality is not important to him.”

That is, obviously, terrifying. But, since the rest of us haven’t had the luxury of a three-month hiatus, none of this is anything we haven’t been acutely aware of literally every day. Nevertheless, this is John Oliver, so he does not disappoint with that deep dive. He sets up four basic questions:

  1. How did we get a pathological liar in the White House?
  2. Where are his lies coming from?
  3. Why do so many people believe him?
  4. What can we possibly do about it?

The circle of Trumpian lies and falsehoods described here is as depressing as ever. Because Trump repeats his lies often enough that people believe them, and then when they catch on and are repeated by Trump-agenda-supporting media outlets *coughBreitbartcough*, that then serves to give the appearance of legitimization. But there’s nothing actually legitimate about the fact that “the President seems to tweet about whatever he just saw on cable news.” Which he really does do. As Oliver points out in the video, Trump has, and continues to tweet out Fox News pull quotes, almost word for word. And then the next step there is for Fox News and other outlets to use those tweets of Trump’s to support their original claim.

In short:

So it’s that fourth question up there that most of us desperately want the answer to. And yes, I know John Oliver doesn’t have the power to answer and solve all of the world’s problems, but week to week, he sure does make us feel like he could. In addition to holding the media accountable for relaying truthful news, news consumers also have to recognize and take responsibility for their role in the perpetuation of unreliable, sensationalized news.

None of this is anything most of us haven’t already been shouting from the proverbial cyber rooftops. But what about Trump? What power do we possibly have in making sure he is responsible in consuming and therefore repeating real, truthful news? Well, Last Week Tonight has a pretty fantastic (and totally logical) idea for how to put real news into the only place that might actually reach Trump: cable news commercials.

It’s a very disturbing full circle we’ve reached, when to make real news believable, the best course of action is to disguise it as fake.

Watch that video above and make sure to stick around to the end to watch the actual commercial airing on cable news networks today.

(image via YouTube)

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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.