Last Week Tonight with John Oliver discussed the coronavirus outbreak again, recapping how the US government has responded.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is known for covering a wide array of topics. Some subjects get multiple segments from the show but never in the same season, never mind just weeks apart. But the novel coronavirus outbreak has proven to be a unique situation.
Last Week Tonight discussed the novel coronavirus outbreak in episode three of this season. That was on March 1 and the YouTube clip of the segment has earned over 12 million views. In that video, Oliver detailed the response by the U.S. government, which at that point was subject to some pretty heavy criticism.
Now just two weeks later, Oliver and Last Week Tonight once again addressed the novel coronavirus outbreak and government response. Like the rest of late night television, Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight was without a studio audience and wasn’t even filmed in its normal studio.
The result is an episode that seems even more poignant and worth the public’s attention. As more and more people look for comfort in an uncertain time, voices like John Oliver become more and more important. Here, he evaluates the government’s response and offers some ideas on how everyone can help:
Last Week Tonight joins other shows like Real Time with Bill Maher and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to release content without the familiar sound of audience laughter. Oliver handles this extremely well and delivers his jokes with the same rhythm and cadence he would had the typical eruption of laughter been there after each punchline.
And while the blank studio and lack of audience adds to the surreal vibe that Bill Maher discussed on his show, Last Week Tonight makes the most of it by offering a frank discussion on the situation. The circumstances of this episode only make the viewer lean in more and listen closely to what Oliver has to say.
In examining how President Donald Trump’s administration has responded to the outbreak, Oliver doesn’t pull any punches. He applauds Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading expert on infectious diseases, for being honest about the U.S. failings when it comes to testing. The problem, according to Oliver, is that President Trump doesn’t share that assessment.
Oliver echoes late night comedians like Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert who have called out President Trump over his handling of novel coronavirus and statements contradicting experts. He cites President Trump’s press conference in which he refused responsibility and claimed to be unaware of why or how the White House Pandemic Office was disbanded under his watch.
Oliver concludes that without reliable leadership from the federal government, it is up to the public to watch out for themselves. The comedian recaps some health suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and some from the TikTok hamster, his new favorite person in the world.
Late night television hosts and comedians like John Oliver find themselves in a tough spot. Fans are turning to them for a distraction or relief from the news. At the same time, Oliver and others feel an obligation to spread sound advice and guidance to fill the void they see coming from the White House.
The team at Last Week Tonight found the right balance with this segment. The situation isn’t sugarcoated but the need for humor isn’t completely abandoned, providing a much needed public service.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.