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John Oliver's 6 Big Lessons on How to Report on Donald Trump

February 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Rachel Leah, Salon

The late-night comic has some sound advice for us.

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” returns to HBO Sunday, Feb. 18, for the British comedian's fifth season, after a brief hiatus. Though, as he tells a room full of reporters at the network's Bryant Park headquarters Monday, he and his team never stopped working.


It's certainly an eagerly anticipated return, as Oliver has become one of the leading and most celebrated voices in late night. Unsurprisingly, “Last Week Tonight” has been renewed for two additional seasons, through 2020.

While most of the late-night hosts do a good job of holding the Trump administration accountable in inventive and hilarious ways, with the weekly show format Oliver gets to go deeper and beyond the daily circus acts taking place in the White House. His investigative, yet unconventional reporting style and deep dives into often un-sexy topics has earned the show millions of weekly viewers, eight Emmys and the dubbing of “The John Oliver effect,” meaning once “Last Week Tonight” covers an issue, interest in it soars.

In a sharp gray suit, lavender shirt and eggplant tie, Oliver points to the fifth season's advert, with his glasses off, face pressed into his desk, one hand rests on top of his cellphone, perhaps mid-scroll, and his other hand signals that he just needs a moment. Naturally, on top of the image, it reads: “Everything is fine.” Oliver tells the room of journalists, that's how he feels all the time, even before this presidency, but especially now.

But save the usual sarcasm and biting jokes at the state of the world that keeps everyone in the conference room belly-laughing, Oliver has a lot to say about how to report on President Donald Trump. Given the daily onslaughts on the media from the White House, the crusade against facts, and the labeling of any dissent or critique as “fake news,” these lessons are critical and welcomed.

Number 1: There are other valuable things to report on besides Trump. 

“There's other things happening in the world, it can be hard to remember that, just because he's so all-consuming,” Oliver said, adding that of course, “There is some stuff you …read more


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