After spending recent episodes covering the plight of essential workers and President Donald Trump’s favorite new propaganda news network OAN, John Oliver looked at the anti-lockdown protests on Last Week Tonight this week, and in particular, how they were fomented by a lot of misinformation and conspiracy theories spread by the likes of Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Phil McGraw and more.
Oliver homed in on the malignant influence of Limbaugh and Fox News, and the insidious ways in which they’ve trained their audiences not to trust respected sources: “Limbaugh has spent years pushing his ‘Four Corners of Deceit,’ which consists of government, academia, science and the media, which unfortunately 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,” Oliver said. “And he’s not alone in utilizing that technique. Fox News’s recurrent pitch to its audience has been it will tell you the true story that elites and the mainstream media are trying to hide.”
Calling Fox News’ coverage “almost incomprehensibly stupid,” he added, “you can’t deny it’s good TV. The issue is, 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 a time when the country needs unified messaging to combat the spread of the virus, Trump has instead been parroting what he hears on Fox News, which is rife with inaccuracies and rumors.
After debunking several of those rumors, like that 5G mobile networks spread the disease or that there are miracle cures out there, Oliver got personal: “I know people who’ve died from [coronavirus]. I also know people who are taking hydroxychloroquine because they think it will give them immunity, and 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. But the only way that happens is if we have trusted, well-informed leadership, which unfortunately, we don’t.”