In a new episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the host, like many others, is hosting from home. He said that they shot on Saturday and told viewers not to feel awkward about the absence of laughing that many are used to with the regular telecast.
“I started my comedy career doing standup in England,” said Oliver. “I am more than used to making jokes to silence.”
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After getting excited for being celebrated by the Tik Tok hamster he praised in the previous episode, he dove into the only thing making headlines as of late: coronavirus. In particular, he used this opportunity to continue his dragging of Donald Trump and how he has handled the crisis — which has clearly gotten worse.
As more confirmed coronavirus cases begin to surface, Oliver said, “The president has only recently realized the gravity of the situation.” He points out that only a month ago Trump said “We have it very much under control” and more recently he said “I’ve felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” He then addressed how Trump said he wanted to open the country and economy by Easter.
“If you are going to pick a holiday to break a quarantine you can do a lot worse than one honoring the time Jesus was supposed to stay inside but didn’t,” Oliver joked about Trump’s irresponsible attitude with relaxing measures way too soon.
Unlike Trump, governors are taking this crisis seriously while Florida’s Ron DeSantis has not issued a statewide stay at home order. More than that, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick took things even further by agreeing with Trump about how economic damage of a lockdown is too great to bear.
“If you really want to die so the U.S. economy could boom, we already have a system in place for that — it’s called Black Friday,” Oliver said in response to Patrick.
As Spain and Iran has made mass graves you can see from space and ice skating rinks serving as makeshift morgues, Oliver points out how absurd it is that conservative pundits are co-signing the idea of people sacrificing themselves for the economy — specifically Glenn Beck who recently spoke passionately about the topic.
“The coronavirus is not The Hunger Games,” said Oliver. “You can’t volunteer yourself as tribute.”
He continued, “What Glenn Beck is doing is much darker. [He is] actively volunteering others — including all people of all ages — to die. Even if these guys are okay with letting the coronavirus kill as many people as it feels like so the economy is protected there are — I can’t believe I have to say this — significant drawbacks to thousands of people dying.”
“It’s critically important for America to be getting a clear, consistent message about the severity of the threat we’re currently facing,” Oliver explains. “That is the only way we will be able to manage this virus, contain casualties and get back to something resembling normalcy.”
Oliver went on to address the extreme shortage of basic equipment like ventilators and masks that hospitals are facing. And of course, Trump isn’t addressing the problem. He is minimizing them. He could have helped solve this by enacting the Defense Production Act to compel companies to produce supplies sooner but he didn’t. It is only recently made GM make ventilators.
“Trump has failed to give this crisis the seriousness it requires,” Oliver said.
As he played clips of a medical professional getting emotional about not having the equipment they need to fight this virus he reiterates that “the agony of the virus has been profound.”
“It didn’t need to be this hard,” he added. “That is why it is so profoundly disheartening that we are being led through this crisis by a man who may be less equipped to deal with this historical moment than anyone in recorded history.”
Oliver admits that he was rooting for Trump to do better as “handling a crisis well is not inherently political.” He said how he doesn’t necessarily agree with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine or New York Governor Andrew Cuomo — but they are doing their jobs well.
“I wish I could honestly say that we are going to be fine — but I don’t know that,” Oliver said. “Most of us will be — but not all of us. The number that won’t is up in the air right now.”
A crisis of this magnitude ends up revealing a lot about who you are as a nation and not all that is being revealed is good,” he said, adding that coronavirus has exposed vulnerabilities in our medical and political systems as well as the national psyche.
“At the same time, this virus has exposed reserves of real strength in this country,” he reiterates with hope. “We’ve seen extraordinary heroism, kindness and ingenuity in the essential lines of work.” He goes on to praise grocery store workers, delivery people and medical professionals who he adds should get a parade whenever we are allowed to have parades again.
“What we choose to do outside of our hospitals has a direct and significant impact on what happens inside of them,” he said while urging social distancing to the maximum extent so that we can make it easier for healthcare workers to do their job.”It is the only way to counteract an appalling federal response,” he bluntly states.
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