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How the 'John Oliver Effect' Is Having a Real-Life Impact (time.com)
296 points by adamnemecek on Jan 22, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 112 comments

John Oliver's show has honestly taken things to a far better level, dealing with real issues in approachable ways.

The Daily Show is just cluttered with inside gossip about crappy news TV which I don't give a shit about either. Basically, the Daily Show has had a handful of great segments but is mostly straw-man stuff that's kinda nice, kinda meh. Colbert is fantastic but rarely really took on real issues — although his Super PAC thing was superb.

Fact is, John Oliver's show is totally amazingly great. The best of its kind, hands down (says me, someone who basically avoids TV shows and actually has only a modest sense of what's out there).

> The Daily Show is just cluttered with inside gossip about crappy news TV which I don't give a shit about either.

Believe it or not, parodying that crap 24-hour cable TV news was the original premise. Actually telling the news was a side-effect, at best.

Who knew the old Will Rogers gag of reading the paper would go over so big with a new generation, eh?

I believe 'The Daily Show' has evolved over couple of years as it has become the news source for a large subset of millennials. Hence now they mock relevant topics just to bring awareness as opposed to birth a movement which Oliver does best.

You are entitled to your opinion but try to keep in mind that you are describing three milestones in an evolutionary process. These are performers who are in every sense building off of the work of the one before them. You are outlining the construction of a machine that began with Stewert in 1999, Colbert in 2005 and then Oliver in 2014. A machine with elements from 1999 that don't work as well anymore and elements from 2014 that wouldn't have fit in 1999.

Actually it started with Dennis Miller far before that. SNL really pioneered this genre.

Colbert and Oliver are not the only 'children' of Stewart. In these days of Serbian populist government Zoran Kesić's show '24 Minutes with Zoran Kesić' is one of the few islands of open critique of the regime on the TV with national coverage. (https://www.youtube.com/user/24minutaofficial)

I would also add to the list Bassem Youssef, Egypt's satirist, who happens to be a cardiac surgeon.


There's also a strong tradition of this kind of thing in Britain (That Was The Week That Was, Brass Eye, Private Eye, 10 O'Clock News, etc.), and Canada (This Hour Has 22 Minutes is legendary, and has been running since 1993).

Spitting Image (TV Series 1984–1996)

"The series was nominated and won numerous awards during its run including 10 BAFTA Television Awards, including one for editing in 1989, and even won two Emmy Awards in 1985 and 1986 in the Popular Arts Category."

"10 O'Clock News" - are you critiquing standard news coverage, or do you mean "Not The Nine O'clock News" there?

I think I was actually thinking about 10 O'Clock Live. My mistake (and a shameful one, it was one of my favorites).

But yes, Let us not forget Not the Nine O'Clock News.

If you are going to credit SNL you have to credit Chevy Chase.

Rush Limbaugh had a show in 1992 where he photoshopped mocking photos of politicians and made montages of politicians "debating" themselves saying contradictory thing.

It's hard to cover much substance in 23 minutes or however long The Daily Show gets. I think they understand this and treat the show as a time to make jokes, but use the interview segment to really dig into current events. The extended interviews especially are fantastic because they're so candid, sometimes tense.

If you're just watching Jon Stewart for 12 minutes of news jokes, you're only getting a small taste of what the show has to offer.

Jon Stewart is often a terrible interviewer. Especially when he either hasn't found any respect for the guest or when he likes the guest so much they can't take the promotional point of the interview seriously.

In one case he fails to address the perspective of the guest (which means he emotes a lot and asks questions they don't answer) and in the other they more or less just smile knowingly at each other for 5 minutes.

I suppose another way to say it is that much of the problem is that he tends to make the interview about himself.

What you say is certainly true when he is interviewing entertainers, but I do think the parent is correct: if he's got a serious guest on and they are discussing an issue Stewart cares about, he really lets them use the time effectively. He mostly stays out of the way and just helps them stay on topic.

Promoting his agenda through guests is his reward, I suppose, for stumbling through so many interviews with vapid celebrities.

Yeah, the less antagonistic serious interviews go okay. That's why I was so specific about guests that he can't find respect for.

I also don't think he is really stumbling through the celebrity interviews, he's playing himself as above them. When his (lack of) relationship with the guest makes it so that won't work, the interview goes along just fine.

But John Oliver's show is even shorter (or the segments are anyway). So that's no comparison. I'm not trying to knock Jon Stewart, I think he's done a lot of great stuff, but so far John Oliver's show is more consistently amazing.

his coverage of Ferguson to the militarization of the police was brilliant, sadly not enough people will have seen it. Considering all the push back we are now seeing from the police because of changes on the federal level regarding seizures its high time this stuff starts becoming everyday discussion for everyone.

The government at all levels has simply taken too many of our rights or flat out circumvented the law with weasel speak and it needs to be reigned in.

> The government at all levels has simply taken too many of our rights or flat out circumvented the law with weasel speak and it needs to be reigned in.

Agree.. and same goes for our corporations.

John Oliver is remarkable in a sense he comes from UK to US, gets rich by cracking jokes about the very same thing that made him rich!

I grew up watching Jon Stewart and occasionally Colbert. I always thought it was interesting how Jon Stewart would defend against his critics by saying something along the lines of "my show is preceded by puppet prank callers (crank yankers), this is a comedy show first and foremost."

That was his defense against people saying he was contributing to news imbalance or accusing him of not doing anything useful to alleviate the problems of biased journalism. He took a hard line (and still does I think) that he was a comic and was not responsible for anything beyond that.

I remember once he had a segment about a 9/11 first responders bill (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM6cvbjZmQE), which may have reversed the course of that bill for the better (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/business/media/27stewart.h...).

John Oliver seems to have grasped the power of that particular segment and has, in my opinion, drastically improved the form of the political satire. It will be interesting to see how his perceived influence will affect next season.

The lineage for Colbert and Oliver is a direct line back to Stewart. They can effect change today because Jon jumped in the pit with the Spinzone (or whatever that show was called) and beat the pundits at their own game.

The big take away from The Daily Show should be Stewart declaring he was just an entertainer because the talking heads on the "real" news shows couldn't. Characters, tropes, archetypes, cliches, people with a job to deliver an audience for advertisers using a dynamic personality. The same job description for talent hired at Comedy Central as Cable News Network.

EDIT: Took me a bit of googling to remember but the show was called Crossfire. Specific clip: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFQFB5YpDZE)

I think Stewart was effective because he doesn't firebrand every news item or segment with to the same effect. When there is a event which deserves extra commentary or a stern posture Stewart seems genuine when speaking to the audience.

It was effective because no other show or host had the same kind of candid platform to communicate over, and when Stewart had those opportunities (arguably the first moment would be on his 9/11 broadcast), the honesty resonated with a lot of people.

Those moments are uncommon with Stewart. With John Oliver, I feel like the writers and producers are basing their program around those kinds of finger wagging moments, but it's the embodiment of the show instead of an occasional moment. It feels more forced than genuine.

Eh, it's a different beast. Oliver only has to do one show a week and he has an hour. He doesn't want to just be John Stewart's show but with swearing. Doing this every night would be tiring for the audience. Doing it once a week saying, "hey here's this one fucked up thing in our society" is a digestible form.

To put it another way one is comedy news, the other is a comedy news magazine.

Of course, having a whole week to prepare and research the content really helps at quality as well.

What also helps is that John Oliver is on HBO - they have the budget, and they can swear or show pictures of genitals.

That's part of the reason I never really liked Jon Stewart. He knew he was the primary, if not only, news source for a large demographic; yet, he would consistently hide behind the Comedy Central logo in the bottom corner when he was criticized.

It's like he felt he---and only he---was allowed to turn on and off his "real" journalist at whim.

I'd compare it to Kronkite talking about the Vietnam War, if I had to pull out a quick example in relating it to network news. Kronkite was candid and honest and his manner might not have always been what the network wanted (they'd prefer some kind of ra ra America attitude), but it was his breaking character that made people pay attention.

I don't think anyone feels the same about any other anchor on TV right now, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, etc. I'm not saying Stewart is a journalist, him being able to sit on the fence like he does upsets guys on the networks, but he is effective with his hosting and I don't think he's doing anyone a disservice.

To be clear, you are saying that you didn't like Jon Stewart because, even though he was the best news source, he wasn't better enough for your desire?

He's saying there was genuine criticism on bias and presenting stories making light of one side, and presenting the other side too favorably.

Knowing full well that a large number of people looked to him for news, and that his reporting (de facto news reporting, that is, despite him not naming it like that) received genuine criticism, how one can then hide behind the notion that 'oh it's just comedy don't take it seriously' for years and years is a bit disingenuous.

In fairness however, Jon has always said that he is biased and flavored. And that's okay. And add to that the fact that it IS also comedy, it's hard to ask of him to be completely objective. Especially when it's a counterbalance to the media landscape which is COMPLETELY biased one way or another, whether it's Fox News or Democracy Now!. And if you then look at where the ciriticism comes from: Fox News, which isn't comedy but just news, but is worse in its reporting, and is pretty much more biased than anyone in media AND is more powerful and watched than anyone, I can easily see why Jon will look at that and say 'YOU guys pretend to be fair and balanced but aren't, pretend to bring news but it's crap, have responsibility as journalists to be objective but aren't, while I'm admittedly biased and run a comedy show'.

The parent did not say that they thought Stewart was "the best news source", but that a large demographic did.

The article says so briefly, but what makes his show wonderful is the comedy mixed-in with in-depth news research and assessment. It's the kind of thing you'd want or expect on a constant basis from massive, 24-hour news networks, but is either largely absent or lost in the noise. I personally gave to the Society of Women Engineers (http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/) after his show because he did such an effective job of conveying his message. More news programs could learn from him.

I'm English and my first exposure to John Oliver was the segment he did on Civil Forfeiture which I found both interesting and entertaining. What struck me was how more like a British satire the show was. Do others think it matters that John is British and thus gets a little extra leeway (we do like our swearing) and can play the outsider role somewhat?

John was also a panellist on literally the first Mock the Week and few others during its 1st/2nd seasons and available on YouTube. Although I think he was still finding his style back then.


Slightly OT, if you like John Oliver, you may enjoy The Bugle, a podcast which features Oliver and his friend Andy Zaltzmann discussing world news, often focusing on America and the UK.

What I don't get is why it's necessary to have comedy to get people engaged? What is it that news requires the 'chaser' of comedy? I don't think we can attribute it to people being base/vulgar. Why can't a serious, well researched news program do well? Why does there have to be a chaser to make it successful?

So I'll put it to you this way, through highschool and university the best teachers or professors I ever had were comedians. Maybe "entertainers" is a better word.

One of them even specifically told us about his strategy before he started his series of lectures. Basically, when people get bored they stop absorbing. Once in a while he will "trick your mind" (i.e. confuse it), and you will pay attention again. To be honest, its why I know as much about operating systems, locks and threads, as I do.

To make this story relevant. Humor is just that, a trick someone plays on your mind.

I think you might have a point there. For an instructor I can attribute it to personality or style. They know you a bit and try to engage but broadcast is simplex so i think its something else. I think they're trying to reproduce a type of gossipy jocular delivery of news. Maybe a bit like a town crier but still different.

My feeling is they're trying to seem like they're your friends, so you feel more engaged and listen and don't mind the bias because, you 'know them, and you accept that trait'. The unattached news delivery was not engaging us psychologically (for whatever reason we may need that) so they came up with this new recipe.

Never the less in other countries I've had news delivered pretty matter of factly --with built in biases of course but the news wasn't chased with comedy satire etc. There might have been irony but anyhow there's something about the need for comedy to make it digestible for us

This speaks very closely to my own development as an educator. Being a 'fonte of knowledge' is only engaging to student who're already intrinsically motivated to learn. With the expectation that every student be engaged and successful in their learning (regardless of the baggage or apathy they carry with them into the room) I've found myself actively attempting to improve the performance aspect of my job. It helps that my partner is an improv comedianne, but when I began this work (as as natural introvert) I didn't imagine that a daily self-review of my "performance" would consider timing and delivery as significantly. In any case, it works and because it works I try to improve this skill.

I think it's because finding the funny in even the worst news is an important part of being human. It's an important feature in our ability to cope and deal with things.

Maybe it's evolutionary? The people who when presented with a problem were able to keep their spirits up while tackling it perhaps had a better success rate then those who lost perspective on their responsibilities to their own emotional wellbeing.

> What I don't get is why it's necessary to have comedy to get people engaged?

It's not, but entertaining people is a good way to keep them engaged and comedy is a relatively easy way to entertain while telling.

When the content is dry and the delivery is dry and completely unengaging people just tune out, even if the subject is interesting in the abstract.

Comedy is not the only way, Attenborough is entertaining without being comedic, but it's a good way nonetheless.

And comedians are observers of human nature by trade, so they might have an easier time couching down and expressing more "serious" topics than some other entertainers.

Because comedy provides a veneer of safety around an issue. The hahaha part of human nature is largely about reacting to being uncomfortable. People avoid things that just make them seriously uncomfortable, and comedy provides a safer, lighter way to deal with it. It also makes it harder for opponents to attack. It's really complex. It's nothing to do with vulgarity, vulgarity is just common in comedy because it's another thing that makes people uncomfortable.

The word "vulgar" originally meant, "in the common language people understand", instead of "the elite formal language of the elites". That's precisely the point here, to meet people where they are and communicate in a way that feels natural, not arcane and ritualized.


Cognitive dissonance puts viewers in tension. Laughter resolves that tension.

Hmmm, sort of like they are finding the jocular humor, the ironies, the satire _for_ you, so you don't have to. They are doing all the work for you and you get to sit down and _not_ think. So you get to eat your cake and have it, as it were.

Most people don't like sitting in front of a TV and being lectured and/or read to. They need something to satiate their need for acceptance. Comedy is far safer than the popular alternatives: FUD, hate, and conspiracy. A great personality is another good one, but those are rare.

I think television is terrified that you would turn to another channel, etc; Telling a joke keeps you for a few seconds, enough time to tell another. And then you're engaged. But you have to make the case to watch your show in the span of 30 seconds. The advantage of comedy is that you're always telling a joke - users can enter at any point and will stay to hear the rest.

And if in-depth news analysis was something people wanted, well, the Economist would have a much higher subscription base than it currently does.

60 minutes seems to do fairly well. I'd classify it as John Oliver-esque without the comedy.

In addition to what everyone else has said, even the most serious of the serious hard news reporters have never read the news in a completely dry monotone. Humans actively filter such boring stimuli; it isn't immoral to do so, it's inevitable.

It's because many millennials demand to be entertained and have the attention span of a gnat. There are younger folks that can tell you everything about Kardashian's new ass but can't name the Vice President.

Content is absurd so comedy as vessel is totally fitting.

Same stuff was said seriously but when you hear someone describing with serious tone how reality is absurd you don't believe him.

The comedy makes it more engaging. Simple as that.

I would speculate that the audience for TV news these days might not be looking for well-researched news.

John Oliver's show is (relatively) well-researched. That's half of its value and appeal.

I think one reason why Oliver enjoys so much success is the fact that HBO posts the main news story section on Youtube after every show. The ready availability of these digestible segments helps extend the show's reach. For Comedy Central shows, if you don't watch the episodes on TV you have to use the Comedy Central website or Hulu, neither of which have the appeal of Youtube.

I like Oliver, but Colbert is (was?) still my favorite. I didn't watch him for the news, I watched him for the comedy. I don't think either Stewart or Oliver can match Colbert when it comes to being really really funny.

Before Stewart, Colbert, or Oliver the UK had Chris Morris.

Morris created the radio show "On The Hour", which transfered to tv as "The Day Today", and followed that with "Brass Eye".

You really should seek these out if you're interested in news and current affairs satire.

(Morris then went on to co-write "Nathan Barley" with charlie Brooker.)

Especially brilliant was the Brass Eye Paedophile Special which satirised the media's obsession with paedophilia at the time so perfectly it did actually change things for the better. After the initial, predictable storm of protest that followed of course. I'd be interested how a US audience would react to that special. I'm sure you can find it easily enough on Youtube.

The real shit-storm about the paedophile episode was actually after it was repeated. The initial showing got complaints, but nothing like the attention the later showing was subject to.

> it did actually change things for the better

{{Citation needed}}

Just a personal opinion. I feel that after the broadcast the hysteria dropped off dramatically. Well at least until the whole Jimmy Savile thing.

And also Four Lions[0], a satire about terrorism

And you may know him as the first Denholm from the IT crowd.

[0] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1341167/

Was about to comment with that myself. Fantastic film and a very funny take on terrorism.

I would say that "That Was The Week That Was" was the real pioneer.


Which also brought John Cleese and The Two Ronnies to our screens.

Not The Nine O'Clock News could also get a mention - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_the_Nine_O%27Clock_News

Though it had more sketch based things but current affairs was a lynch pin.

Drop the Dead Donkey is not to be discounted - Ch4 1990-1998 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drop_the_Dead_Donkey

And some links for Chris Morris :

The Day Today - BBC2/1994- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_Today

One The Hour - Radio4 1992 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Hour

Brass Eye - Ch 4 1997-2001 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brass_Eye

Later you've got

10 O'Clock live - Now "househgold names" : Charlie Brooker, David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr, Lauren Laverne


This was the show that introduced Sasha Baren Cohen as Ali-G, Bruno & Borat.

If you remember Ali-G was used as political satire via interview.

Also, I think you need to consider Dermot_Morgan (most known outside Ireland for Father Ted) in the list of important political satirists and Scrap Saturday in the list of groundbreaking satire programmes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dermot_Morgan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrap_Saturday

Small nitpick. It was The 11 O'Clock Show [1998] that introduced Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali-G & Borat). It also gave us Ricky Gervais & Mackenzie Crook.


Ah, thanks for that. cheers.

Note to anyone who considers themselves fans of 'news' parody and social commentary: The above comment is EXCELLENT ADVICE!

Anyone who likes Last Week Tonight should also check out the Bugle podcast Oliver hosts with Andy Zaltzman. Satire at its best: http://www.thebuglepodcast.com/

The bugle podcast once made me laugh during my entire commute home (45m) - episode 205 [1].

Andy and John are comedic geniuses.

[1] http://thebuglepodcast.com/bugle-209-the-bugles-5th-birthday...

Agreed. My favourite's got to be episode 152. The world is indebted to John Oliver for the term "fuckeulogy": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVb84n-FFx4

I host an archive of old Bugle episodes, if you want to relive the late 00s: http://gamesplusone.com/thebugle/

Bookmarked. Thanks, I'm sure I've used your archive in the past to grab the odd missing episode. If you get chance and haven't already seen it, Andy's “satirist for hire” stand-up show is superb.

I owe you my thanks, I used your site years ago when I first discovered the Bugle and was religiously listening to all the older episodes that had fallen off the Times feed.

It was fun to put together, since the old Times Online website lost a few episodes and I had to scrounge them up where I could. I couldn't find episode 54A for months, and in the end, one guy just emailed it to me.

Another key to Last week tonight, besides its length, is also that its not on cable and doesn't have advertisers. I can hurl as much vitrol on specific companies as they possible can without getting sued...

The GM ad was so great: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6IZ2TroruU

> Another key to Last week tonight, besides its length, is also that its not on cable and doesn't have advertisers.

It is, in fact, on cable. Do you mean not on basic cable?

Ah, yes, Thanks :) I'm not too familiar with the finer points of American tv-distribution

So _Last Week Tonight_ does longer-form, more in-depth comedy reporting? That actually seems like a terrific mix, and definitely a hole in the market. People want to be entertained and informed, and while _Colbert_ / _Daily Show_ provide good breadth, we need good depth as well.

I've watched a good number on YouTube. They are generally longer-form, and get into some more detail. I find them quite enjoyable, but I think you may be disappointed if you go in expecting a lot more depth. I don't think you want your sister telling you that's how she keeps in touch with American news (hypothetically speaking :)

I'd like to express my hatred of websites that deliver content via javascript, requiring me to turf through 20 different scrips to figure out which one I have to enable to scroll the page.

HTML is fine people.

Just because you make choices that complicate otherwise-simple things in your life does not mean you should criticize decisions made by people who give you information you do not have to pay for.

It's the JavaScript that complicates otherwise simple things.

Why on Earth does anyone need JavaScript to deliver text through HTTP? NoScript users aren't the guilty party, here.

Noscript is used far more widely then crazy over-engineered javascript based text delivery systems.

I run into a new website with this problem less frequently than once every few months. It's always the same few, like Time, still using their stupid hand-rolled content engines.

It's not my job to cater to special snowflake syndrome.

>It's not my job to cater to special snowflake syndrome.

Oh, the ironing.

Yes, "caring about what programs are running on my computer" is a property we should look down on users for having.

I don't think we should look down on users for that. I think we should question the sense of entitlement when people change settings and it breaks websites. Websites that people provide to you for no charge.

What I find irritating is when people make the decision to use NoScript, knowing the tradeoffs involved, then are vocal about sites not working. You made the decision, easily reversible, now live with it!

This is more to the tune of friendly(if irritated) advice.

Time's website may well be for free, but they want me to buy their paid products, they need to sell themselves to me.

Wanna know how you can make sure your sales pitch fails? Try to deliver it via unverified code that could be doing anything.

Noscript is a standard part of all sensible internet users internet security, for the simple reason that there is no way to know what a block of javascript is doing unless you first capture and examine it.

If your product pitch won't work until I desecure my computer, I guess I'll never see your sales pitch.

Getting mad at me won't change that.

e: Nor will downvoting me :D

It's not my job to cater to special snowflake syndrome.

I'm just going to assume this was done on purpose.

You kind of remind me of the guy who rails against the design stupidity of cylindrical bottles every time he gets a drink. Rectangular bottles won't roll away, stack more efficiently, and are easier to use. WTF is wrong with beverage vendors.

(That guy is me. But neither of us is going to win.)

Your bottles keep rolling away?

Yeah, but that could be related to what's in them...

Totally agree.

I saw 'time.com' and didn't even bother clicking. Somewhat related: I also skip over any links to paywalled sites(nytimes, wsj, etc...).

His show about World Cup in Brazil was a real eye-opening for a lot of brazilians. It was shared a lot around here and it was the best way available to explain what was wrong with Wordl Cup and FIFA. I don't know about any "real impact" other than making people more informed about what was happening, which is a great deal, as the local media wasn't able to accomplish it.

Informing people is the first step to causing any impact on this sort of thing, so that alone is pretty significant.

While he went after the Miss America foundation for its scholarships, there are many cancer and related charities who are just as bad and could do with exposure.

However like how government works, people prefer to not to know and that is very dangerous.

"the Miss America Organization is the largest provider of scholarships for women in the world, he directed viewers to donate to other groups he deemed more worthy"

Personally I find John Oliver to be a dick. Things like the above quote and other stories he's covered, where I have some knowledge, shows he's playing up to the internet scream and not the realities of life. It's show business and that alone.

Maybe you should research whether or not "the Miss America Organization is the largest provider of scholarships for women in the world". You might be surprised.

I quoted the article which stated that fact so if you wish to disagree with the article, and John Oliver apparently, please show what you know.

We have always known that peddling feel-good bull that validates our own beliefs and biases gets many takers. I don appreciated JO's efforts to talk about things like Net neutrality but his arguemnts are mostly plain wrong.

I would be interested in seeing more on which of his arguments are plain wrong. The net neutrality one, I honestly don't remember. Pretty much every other show, though. Bloody amazing. The lottery and the wealth gap ones were particularly fun. The Miss America one, brilliant.

Comedians should ideally stick to comedy instead of overstepping their abilities. He talks many funny things no doubt but that does not make it true. Miranda Kerr might ask us to buy some perfume claiming it to be the best and millions might even buy it but that does not say anything about the claim.

The Lottery I completely failed to see his point. It was funny no doubt. But gambling is pretty much common throughout the history everywhere. The only problem with lottery I see is that it is mostly government controlled. A more private enterprise in this field could have given more competition and made the overall business more profitable towards the consumers. But that was not his argument.

The Wealth Gap I dont know where to start in debunking these idiotic claims that are being circulated by even the educated people. Fact 1 for example: 50% of Americans belong to top 10% at least once in their lives. People do not deserve higher wages, they have to earn it and at the moment US is the best country that gives that opportunity to everyone without bias. That is why the likes of Jon Oliver come to this country from UK and crack jokes about very same things that made him rich.

The Miss America one, brilliant.

Haven't see the "Miss America" one personally (and I won't) but I can tell you that that particular institution has been a laughingstock for decades. If he has something new to ridicule about it, kudos, but I doubt it changed any already fully-formed opinions from his viewers.

That was kind of what made it brilliant.

The Miss America pageant makes some grandiose claims about how they're the world's largest source of scholarships for woman -- 45 million in a particular year.

They showed that

(a) They were using some sleight of hand, and the real number was something like 100 times less than that

(b) That still made them the largest source of scholarships for women

That's actually a huge misconception, and LWT got it wrong:

Miss America's paltry scholarship program is the largest provider of women-only scholarships.

Many many non-women-only programs give more scholarship money to women than Miss America.

That's exactly what their claim was though. Like to the dot.

Yeah, just to emphasize oliverthrowaway's point. It was the call to arms to increase donations to other women's organizations that really made that piece brilliant.

And really, I think that is the brilliance of John Oliver's work. It is not all just a mocking of news. Often times there is a call to arms at the end. Even if the goals are ridiculous, it is getting people acting. And that is huge.

There is a slight difference between 'largest source of scholarships for women' and 'largest source of women-only scholarships for women'.

I doubt Miss America is the former.

I suggest you watch it. I enjoy his show but most of his stances are decently predictable (and I generally disagree with). This is one that surprised me.

I'm with taeric. Kind of curious what you're taking issue with, unless you're a Dockers-wearing Thomas Friedman-reading Sting fan.

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