Television

John Oliver Just Starts Whaling On Tucker Carlson

John Oliver sits at his glass anchorperson's desk in front of a  sign reading "Tucker," with several photographs of Tucker Carlson.
He jumped out of nowhere! HBO

This week’s Last Week Tonight was a break from John Oliver’s recent coverage of systemic disasters the United States has no hope and no intention of fixing, like our unemployment insurance system or our police raids or our meatpacking industry. Instead of broad, difficult problems in which we all have some degree of complicity, Oliver gave us a classic “Oh, this asshole again” segment about Tucker Carlson, who may be the most malignant television personality since Lonesome Rhodes. Last Week Tonight usually evokes a sense of hopelessness in the face of the nigh-unsolvable problems humanity will be facing over the next century or so. This week, however, in a return to the carefree days when Oliver was paying giant squirrels to insult coal barons, the host offered audiences the pure, innocent pleasure of watching him insult someone who richly deserves to be insulted. Enjoy!

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It wouldn’t be Last Week Tonight if Oliver didn’t explore the historical and systemic forces that enable people like Carlson to command an audience, so let’s face it: As long as there’s a market for thinly disguised white supremacist content on national television, there will always be a Tucker Carlson, even if his name is not “Tucker Carlson.” But this specific Tucker Carlson is terrible! And, unlike, say, a world with no police raids, it’s pretty easy to imagine a world in which Tucker Carlson is no longer pumping racist poison into impressionable white people’s brains on a nightly basis. Let’s see if they’ll let us live there.

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