John Oliver delivered a truncated, stripped-down, and emotional episode of Last Week Tonight from a satellite studio because the CBS studios where it is usually shot (in front of a live audience, but not this week) had confirmed cases of coronavirus this week.
Oliver began the episode: “We are clearly in the midst of a rapidly escalating outbreak, and it’s very difficult to say exactly where things stand, especially because, despite Trump repeatedly claiming otherwise, tests for this virus are still not available in most places to those who need them, which means that we can’t properly track the virus, or know how quickly it’s spreading.”
Oliver also looked at Dr. Anthony Fauci’s balancing act of having to deliver actual facts to the American people and dealing with a president who does not like to deal in facts.
Said Oliver: “Nothing is fine here. The president’s response has sadly been characterized by disorganization and lies.”
Oliver explained the Trump administration’s delay in administering testing, because Trump thought that “more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak, and the president had made clear: the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president, the better for his potential re-election this fall.”
Added Oliver: “That is not only catastrophic, it’s also deeply frustrating, especially when you see how quickly other countries, including South Korea, ramped up their testing capabilities.”
When confronted by a White House reporter that he had disbanded the National Security Council’s pandemic unit, Trump called it a “nasty question” and blamed others.
Said Oliver: “Perfect. That is a level of dodging responsibility that Trump has been perfecting ever since he was very much not in Vietnam.”
Oliver also looked at Trump’s lie that Google was building a website to direct people to testing facilities. But Google quickly clarified that it wasn’t true.
“This is frustrating and extremely unnerving and it is actively contributing to a sense of confusion in the country at the moment. At this point it may be best to put the president aside — don’t worry, there is going to be ample time to be utterly furious with him later — but the fact is, even though this should not be the case, it seems we’re going to be a little bit on our own here and because of that, it might be worth going over some basic rules that health experts say we should all absolutely be following to help stem this outbreak.”
Oliver then showed a TikTok video that he said “offered more useful public health advice” in 12 seconds that the president did in his address to the nation.
“There is a ton of misinformation out there, so please be careful before forwarding or retweeting stuff that you do not know to be true,” Oliver added, after offering some information about flattening the curve. “Our personal actions are really going to count here. Even if you’re not worried about getting this virus other people, especially the elderly and immunosuppressed simply don’t have that luxury so it’s a good idea to treat these precautions like you would the flu shot — you don’t get the flu shot just for you. You get it for everyone else. We all have a real responsibility to one other right now because the choices we make will contribute directly to how bad this crisis gets.”
Oliver left viewers with a message: “I know things are currently very scary things are going to be weird for while….the fact that that is true makes it even more important that going forward we’re going to need to look out for one another — and not just in terms of containing the transmission of this virus — but in terms the economic impact this is going to have on those who will not be able to weather it.”