Last Week Tonight has been off the air since just after the presidential election, and during his return on Sunday night, host John Oliver had a lot of ground to cover. Though the show’s main segment is usually dedicated to complex policy issues like school segregation or the opioid epidemic, Oliver spent his first episode of the new season addressing a more immediate crisis: the “pathological liar” in the White House. “Donald Trump lies is clearly not a fresh observation,” Oliver admitted, but he did come up with four useful questions to analyze Trump’s apparent total disconnect from reality. “Where are his lies coming from? Why do so many people believe him?” asked Oliver. And last, but most important: “What can we possibly do about it?”
“Trump sees something that jibes with his worldview, doesn’t check it, half-remembers it, and then passes it on,” Oliver explained, “at which point it takes on a life of its own and appears to validate itself.” It doesn’t that help when Trump isn’t just making things up, he’s getting his news from unreliable sources like Breitbart and conspiracy theory hub InfoWars—which can have serious consequences for the nation. “Billions will be spent on a wall that won’t work to prevent a crime wave that isn’t happening, while refugees sit in dangerous situations to prevent Bowling Green-style massacres that never took place.”
“The press is going to be a key element to sort out fact from fiction, and they are under attack,” Oliver noted. But with the Trump administration decrying every critical outlet as “fake news,” it’s going to be difficult to drag the country back to reality. Fortunately, Oliver has a plan to target the source of the unending flow of misinformation, by running informational ads during morning shows that we already know Trump watches. (It’s a strategy that was also recently used by a veterans group, who aired a commercial during Trump’s preferred hate-watch, Saturday Night Live, to oppose his Muslim ban and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.)
The first ad that Oliver will run this morning during Fox & Friends, New Day, and Morning Joe features a folksy cowboy promoting pain medication—and explaining the nuclear triad, the Geneva convention, and the unemployment rate. You know, just in case you’re the kind of person who needs that information.