While he was a relatively well-known correspondent on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, it wasn’t until John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight debuted last year that he truly became a star. His show quickly carved out its own niche as one that covered many of the stories largely ignored by the mainstream media. As a host, Oliver often said many of the things that most within the media were either too afraid – or weren’t allowed – to say. My only real complaint about the show thus far is that it’s only on once a week for 30 minutes.
Well, just a few days away from the start of the second season of Last Week Tonight, Oliver had a few choice words for members of the media who continue to speculate on the 2016 presidential election.
When asked about 2016 by reporters at an event promoting the upcoming season of his show, Oliver said, “I couldn’t care less right now.”
“I truly believe that the 2016 election is what the news likes to think about when it doesn’t want to think about anything,” he continued. “There’s no merit in it. Unless you’re in the same year as the thing you’re describing, it’s a complete waste of breath.”
And he’s partially right. Lazy journalism is an epidemic in all forms of media right now. Nowadays it’s often more about trying to fabricate drama than simply reporting relevant news. And even as someone who devotes a large part of my life to following politics, I often get tired of hearing endless speculation about who may or may not run in 2016 months (and even years) before the actual election.
“It’s like a subject screensaver for the news,” Oliver quipped. “You know that if they’re saying ‘Oh, look, Jeb Bush is running,’ you know that’s the equivalent of just, nothing is happening in the newsroom, or we were tired! I have no interest whatsoever in the 2016 election at the start of 2015. There’s a time and a place for that, and it’s in 2016.”
He also took a shot at the tactics often used by many within the media to dumb-down how they cover stories.
“You have to have a pretty intense level of contempt for the American people if you think people will only watch something if it’s only two minutes long and you have someone getting smashed in the nuts at some point,” he said. “And I’m not saying I don’t enjoy two-minute-long, nut-smashing videos, but there has to be more. There has to be protein along with dessert.”
That’s something on which I wholeheartedly agree with him. News networks will bring on several people to discuss an array of very important issue going on in this country and they’ll end up limiting the interview to no more than 5 to 10 minutes that’s usually just each guest trying to talk over one another. But that’s generally the point. For these networks, it’s not about using their time to present quality information about which the American people desperately need to know, it’s about creating the “perfect storm” of guests bickering at one another, often unchallenged by the host, because it makes for “great television.”
Hopefully as Oliver’s star continues to rise more media entities will try to copy his style, because in this country we desperately need more members of our media caring about the quality of the news instead of the quantity of the news.