For the past two weeks, John Oliver has devoted much of Last Week Tonight to the coronavirus pandemic, and how it brings out the best and worst in humanity. But during Sunday’s episode, Oliver turned his attention to a news (“news”) network that’s become an increasing presence during Donald Trump’s recent press conferences: OAN.
The One America News Network, or OAN, is a far-right news network founded by “conservative millionaire and sun-dried Jake Gyllenhaal” Robert Herring that’s replaced Fox News as Trump’s favorite source for information. “When you hear the kinds of questions that they ask,” Oliver said, “you begin to see why Trump calls on them so much.” Questions like, “Your approval ratings have been the highest they’ve ever been, as well as the ratings on your handling of the virus, yet there are some networks that are saying they’re debating whether or not to carry these briefings live. Do you think there’s a link between the two?” Trump’s response: “That’s a nice question, thank you.”
As Oliver put it, “The whole selling point for OAN is that they are Fox News with even less shame and even fewer scruples,” and while it’s tempting to mock “bullshit” tweets like this, now’s not the time for misinformation. “I know that it is easy to dismiss OAN as just a stupid, little-watched, borderline self-parody,” Oliver said. “The problem is, if we’re learning one thing right now, it’s that toxic things that start small can get big fast, and it’s dangerous to ignore them.” Except for when they cover “transgender penguins”:
“In the best of times, you can laugh at an almost Anchorman-esque parody of right-wing news, but much like the problem with Anchorman 2, it’s just not the right time for Ron Burgundy right now. OAN’s weird combination of far-right-wing talking points and dirt-stupid reporting is incredibly dangerous at a time like this.”
Watch the clip above.