John Oliver recaps a year of Trump’s trolling and ‘whataboutism’ in season finale

lanx john oliver last week tonight whataboutism trolling trump

Last Week Tonight is about to hibernate for the winter, so John Oliver used his last episode of the year to break down the overarching problems with the Trump presidency so far.

“I honestly know that the prospect of talking about Trump yet again feels exhausting,” Oliver said, but “Trump’s presidency is like one of his handshakes: it pulls you in whether you like it or not.”

Oliver pointed out that with Trump, “the real damage isn’t in how he says things, but from three key techniques that he uses to insulate himself from criticism and consequence.” Those three techniques are delegitimizing the media, “whataboutism” (distracting from controversy by saying “what about” something unrelated), and trolling.

“Despite Trump’s few real policy accomplishments to date, he has consistently achieved one thing, and that is making his enemies unhappy,” Oliver remarked. “And for many Trump supporters, that itself counts as a major victory.”

“Even if you believe that Democrats are guilty of a double standard, the solution is not to have no standard whatsoever,” Oliver said. “That is why it’s so important to train ourselves to identify these three techniques, because their natural endpoint is the erosion of our ability to decide what’s important, have an honest debate, and hold one another accountable.”

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Caleb is a writer, scholar of satire, and creator of The Lanx. He earned a B.A. in English from UC Berkeley, and M.A. in Literature from Queen Mary University of London, where he focused on satire, satirical propaganda, rhetoric of satire, political cartoons and caricature.

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