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The Trump Presidency: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


The presidency
of Donald Trump. The man voted “Least Edible”
byCannibal Magazine-six years in a row.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) -A– And I know,
I honestly know that the prospect
of talking about Trump yet again feels exhausting. We’re all so tired of him,
every room in America should have a sign
on the wall that counts the number of minutes
that it’s been since someone brought up
his fucking name. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-But– But that is the thing. Trump’s presidency
is like one of his handshakes. It pulls you in,
whether you like it or not. He’s had so many
terrible moments this year, you probably forgot about
many of them. Remember when he creepily told
the French president’s wife -that she was in good shape?
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Or– Or when his
tacky golf resort was touted on the States Department
website? Or, when he shoved
the prime ministerof Montenegro out of the way,
at a NATO event.
Look how proud
of himself he is!
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-Look how proud he is! You should at least have to know
that Montenegro is a country before making a move that says,
“Suck it, Montenegro.” And there were also quieter
but no less alarming moments like when he explained how hard
he’s been fighting to bring “clean coal” back
without appearing to understand what that actually is. It’s just been announced that a second
brand new coal mine where they’re going
to take out clean coal, meaning they’re taking
out coal, -they’re gonna clean it,
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) is opening in the state
of Pennsylvania. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-Listen, is it possible that Trump is well-versed
in and is referring to flue gas desulfurization,
fluidized bed combustion, and selective
catalytic reduction? Sure, it’s possible, but let’s agree
it’s considerably more likely that he thinks you just
take a bunch of coal and scrub-a-dub it
with a big ol’ sponge. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-Oh, yeah, that’s right. I’m saying the president
fundamentally doesn’t understand what he’s talking about,
and you know what that means. -We got him!
-(AIR HORN BLARING) -♪ (PRESIDENTIAL
THEME SONG PLAYING) ♪
-We got him! We got him! I got him– wha–
I didn’t get him? -Did I not get him?
-♪ (MUSIC FLUBS OUT) ♪ I thought– I thought–
I thought we got him. I thought– I thought we got him
that time. Well, that’s fair– okay. What? You think I don’t
hate myself, too? Alright! -(AUDIENCE CHEERING)
-The point is– The point is tonight…
let’s pull back from the daily
Trump-induced chaos and take a look at the norms
that his presidency has violated,
and not the obvious ones, like the fact that he never
released his tax returns, or that his own daughter
and son-in-law work in the White House,
although, admittedly, I am using the word “work”
there so generously that I should be able
to deduct it as a charitable donation
on my taxes. Or– Or that instead
of putting his assets into a blind trust to help
reduce conflicts of interest, he simply showed America that he has many
large stacks of paper, presumable containing
the sentence “I can’t believe
I’m getting away with this,” printed 750,000 times. No, instead, we’re going
to talk about Trump’s assault on something even more basic,
the norms governing how our leaders engage
with us, and how in turn,
that affects the way that we engage with one another. It’s why even the notion
of “getting him” can feel so hopelessly futile. And let’s first stipulate
that it definitely doesn’t help that so often what Trump says
is complete nonsense. We often read transcripts
of Trump’s speeches, and it’s something
that everyone should actually do once in a while,
because when you strip away his blindly confident
entertaining delivery and just read his words,
it is staggering how incoherent he is. Here is a word-for-word
reading of a speech where he talked about
the Iran nuclear deal. (MONOTONE VOICE READS
ON-SCREEN TEXT) -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-(READING CONTINUES) -(AUDIENCE CACKLING)
-Holy shit. That is not a functional use
of language, that is a drunk driver
crashing a pick-up truck -full of alphabet soup.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Trump’s actual speech patterns sound like when you write
a long text by choosing only
the predictive text your iPhone suggests for you. Seriously, we wrote
a message like that, starting with the words,
“the nuclear,” and here is what we got. (MONOTONE VOICE READS
ON-SCREEN TEXT) -(AUDIENCE CACKLING)
-That makes exactly as much, and potentially more sense,
then Trump’s speech about the Iran nuclear deal,
meaning an iPhone would be a more coherent
president of the United States. But with Trump,
we are familiar enough with his speech patterns
that you get the basic gist of what he’s trying to say. 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. And if we are not
extremely careful, all three could have
serious impacts that far outlast his presidency, and let’s start
with the first one. Delegitimizing the media. Now, Trump has been
attacking the press since he declared
his candidacy, and in a broader sense,
he’s been waging war on the very concept of truth ever since he first
turned to his mom and said, “Dada,” and she said,
“No, I’m mama,” and he said, “Fake news,”
and shit his pants. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-Now– the difference now is,
he’s crying fake news as President
of the United States, and he is openly proud of it, to the point that he recently
tried to take ownership of the term itself. The media is… is–
really the word– I think one of the
greatest of all terms I’ve come up with is “fake.” I guess other people
have used it perhaps over the years,
but I’ve never noticed it. -(AUDIENCE GROANING)
-He just took credit for inventing the term
“fake news,” which, for the record,
he did not, meaning what he just said was technically
“fake” fake “news” news. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) A– And you can imagine
him saying, “Well, I’m not the first politician
to criticize the press. What about Hillary Clinton? What about Barack Obama? What about Bernie Sanders? And that actually brings us
to Trump’s second technique, something called
“whataboutism.” It’s the practice
of changing the subject to someone else’s
perceived wrongdoing. Now, Trump does this
all the time, most famously when he was asked why he hadn’t forcefully
condemned the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville,
and this was his response… What about the alt-left
that came charging at the– as you say,
the alt-right? Do they have any
semblance of guilt? What about the fact
they came charging– that they came charging
with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any… problem? Well, actually, no,
because a Nazi killing someone with a car is so heinous, any other issues that might
be up for debate, under any other circumstances,
kind of have to wait their turn. You can be wearing Crocs
with socks, but if you’re using
those socked-Crocs to kick Hitler in the balls,
do you know what? I’m suddenly not
so fucking focused -on the footwear.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Now– Now this technique
of saying “what about…” is actually an old Soviet
propaganda tool, and the reason it is dangerous
is because it implies that all actions,
regardless of context, share a moral equivalency,
and since nobody is perfect, all criticism is hypocritical and everybody should do
whatever they want. It is a depressingly
effective tool, which is why,
on Trump’s favorite network, you hear it all the time. The mainstream media
focused on the Trump campaign and allegations
of collusion with the Russians. But what about the Democrat’s
possible ties to Moscow? FEMALE ANCHOR:
Former national security adviser
General Michael Flynn,investigated for
his private meeting with Russia,
but what about Hillary Clinton?The media wants to call
into question the credibility, uh, and the trustworthiness
of this administration, uh, but what about Benghazi?
What about the blatant lies that the Obama
administration told us? What about the fact that
Ben Rhodes bragged about lying to the media
and the public -about the Iran deal?
-HANNITY: Great point. What about the fact that
Jonathan Gruber basically said the
American people were stupid? Okay, stop, stop, stop,
because here is the thing, none of the errors those people
may have made in the past excuse the Trump
administration’s actions. A defense attorney could not
stand up in court and say, “Maybe my client did
murder those people, but I ask you this…
What about Jeffrey Dahmer? -What about Al Capone?
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHS) What about the guy from
theSilence of the Lambs?I rest my case here, people.
I rest my case.” The problem with whataboutism
is it doesn’t actually solve a problem
or win an argument. The point is just to
muddy the waters which can make
the other side mad, and that actually
brings us to Trump’s third technique… trolling. Now trolling itself
has been around for years. It’s basically 80% of what
happens on the internet. It’s– it’s when a
YouTube commenter says something
willfully provocative like saying, “I’ve aged like
an apple core in a dumpster.” or that I “look like a fucking
pickle with glasses.” Now, it doesn’t matter
whether they mean any of that, the point is just to
get a reaction and to hurt my feelings
which, by the way, it absolutely does. But– But Trump… Trump may
well be the first ever troll to be elected president.
And that’s right, I said elected. Remember tenth president,
Sprinkles Fuzzwizard? He assumed office after
William Henry Harrison died and if you’re thinking,
“Hold on, Sprinkles Fuzzwizard was not
America’s tenth president”… Really? Who was America’s
tenth president? Exactly. Let’s assume
I’m right. The point is, as a troll,
Trump often does things that have no effect
other than to piss off
his perceived enemies. Like when he tweeted
this wrestling GIF of himself
body slamming CNN, or attacked Mika Brzezinksi
by saying she was, “bleeding badly
from a face-lift,” or, as we mentioned
earlier tonight, called a leader
with nuclear weapons “short and fat.” And Trump even once
retweeted a claim that he was the most
superior troll on the whole of Twitter,
calling it “a great compliment.” Which it is not,
because sometimes when you do something that
makes a lot of people mad, it’s because,
and bear with me here, -you’re a dick.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) If you– If you sneak
into someone’s house and urinate
in every heating vent and they get mad at you,
you’re not an epic troll sticking it to the
snowflake cucks, you’re just
some fucking asshole. But the thing is,
Trump’s trolling is not actually without
political value. Despite Trump’s few real policy
accomplishments to date, he has consistently achieved
one thing, and that is making
his enemies unhappy. And for many Trump supporters,
that itself counts as a major victory. Just listen to how
Fox & Friends
reacted after Trump freaked
people out by standing
with military leaders during rising tensions
with North Korea, and suggesting that it was
the “calm before the storm.” I feel like he’s trolling
the media. He is– I think he’s totally
trolling the media there. You do something like that–
even the smile and the wink. Those of us that are sick
of the status quo, the forgotten men and women
who voted for President Trump, want that town to freak out.
I want those reporters going, “What do you mean?
What do you mean?” It’s beautiful to watch. Is it? Why?
I’m genuinely serious. Who benefits from mass confusion
about whether or not we’re about to go to war? Are there thousands of
unemployed factory workers across the Midwest going,
“Well the plant closed down and I lost my healthcare.
But somewhere, aWashington Postreporter
is scared of dying, so things are looking up. Mega!” Judging your political success
on how bad you make other people feel
makes just about as much sense as judging your success
as a zookeeper by how many bears you fuck. Oh, wow, that is not
your job. I mean, I guess it’s impressive
in its own way, but it is definitely not what
you’re supposed to be doing. And the surest proof of trolling
often comes when a troll is confronted. Because that’s when
they have to either put up or shut up. You may have heard about
cases where people tracked down the source
of something awful that was posted online,
only to find some sullen fifteen-year-old
who just shrugs and goes, “Well I don’t know why
I wrote that. I just did it. Stop asking me so many
questions.” Well, that is basically
our president now. I’ll show you.
Remember when Trump said that Obama had surveilled him
in Trump Tower, tweeting… “How low has President Obama
gone to tap-p my phones?” Watch what happens when he
was asked to justify that. Well, you saw what happened
with surveillance and I think that was
inappropriate. -That’s the way–
-What does that mean, sir? Uh, you can figure that out
yourself. Well I– The reason I ask
is you said he was– You called him “sick and bad.” Look, you can figure it out
yourself, he was very nice to me
with words, but– and when I was with him,
but after that there has been no relationship. But you stand by that claim
about him? I don’t stand by anything.
I just, uh… You can take it the way
you want. Okay, so let’s walk through
what just happened there. On the internet he claimed
that his predecessor committed an extremely
serious crime. But in person, he is suddenly
backing down. First saying Obama was
“very nice to me with words,” then that, “I don’t stand
by anything.” Which is one of the most frighteningly nihilistic
sentences a president can say. I would honestly rather
hear that from a clown holding a knife
than a president. Because at least when
a clown says, “I don’t stand by anything,”
you think, “Yeah, that kind of makes sense.
Please make it quick.” -And…
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHS) And look, it gets worse, because
that interview kept going and Trump was explicitly
given the opportunity to set the record straight
for the “fake news media,” but he flat-out refused. I just wanted to
find out that– You’re the president
of the United States, you said he was “sick and bad” -because he attacked you–
-You can take it any way– You can take it any way
you want. -But I’m asking you, because you
don’t want it to be fake news.
-You don’t– -I want to hear it from
President Trump.
-You don’t have to ask me. -You don’t have to ask me.
-Why not? Because I have my own opinions,
you can have your own opinions. But I want to know
your opinions. -You’re the president
of the United States.
-Okay. That’s enough. Thank you. Thank you very much. (AUDIENCE LAUGHS) Okay, so… There is a lot that is
infuriating about that clip. But Trump going back to his desk
and pretending to work hard is an objectively funny
thing to do. That’s like your dog
avoiding questions by pretending to do his taxes.
You never do this, why would you need
to do it now? Look, while there is nothing new
about any of these techniques, they are now coming out
of the Oval Office. Which not only legitimizes them,
it risks them spreading, and that, sadly, is happening. Last month,
Congressman Paul Gosar used all three techniques. First, he suggested
in an interview that the march
in Charlottesville may have been
a false flag operation created by the left, which is
pretty troll-y behavior. And when confronted about it,
he deployed the other two tools. -It’s all been debunked.
-It’s not been debunked. Absolutely not debunked
whatsoever. -So stay tuned.
-The conspiracy theory that you have put out there
has been debunked. It has not been debunked.
Look at– Look at what CNN has talked about with, uh,
with what’s going on with the Clinton administration
right now with the dossier. Hardly an aspect
in regards to debunk. You’re not real news,
you’re fake news. Sir, everything you’ve said
has been debunked, why are you continuing
to put this out there? So he’s basically just
copying Trump. And if there is one thing
worse than something terrible, it’s a cover band
of that terrible thing. If Trump is Nickelback,
that man is Bickleknack. Not as good at it
as the original, and a horrible sign
that the disease is spreading. The problem is
if that becomes the level of discourse
in this country, we are seriously
and lastingly fucked. And just this week,
we saw some of these techniques pushed to the absolute limit
by the scandal involving Alabama Senate candidate
Roy Moore, who has denied allegations
of sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old
when he was 32 and called them “fake news.” Now, watch Sean Hannity
then use whataboutism to derail
a discussion about it. This 14-year old girl,
purportedly, according to
The Washington Post,
told two of her girlfriends -what happened in real time.
-SEAN HANNITY: Here’s
a tough question… Do you think Bill Clinton,
in retrospect, was a predator? But, that is not what this
discussion is about. You might as well have said,
“Here’s a tough question, ‘If you had to guess,
how many lobsters are there?'” -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-“Like total? In the world?” Is that worth discussing?
Sure, but first let’s finish talking about
the Senate candidate who may have made sexual
advances on a child. And, look, whether Clinton
engaged in predatory behavior is absolutely a legitimate
question, but it shouldn’t really inform
what we do about Roy Moore. And, even if you believe
the Democrats are guilty of a double standard,
the solution is not to have no standard whatsoever. That is why it’s so important
to train ourselves to identify these 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. And that erosion
could be so gradual that it’s difficult to spot. It’s like being murdered
by a sloth. It happens very slowly
and you might not notice -until it’s too late.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHS) Now, listen, this is all
very bleak. I cannot pretend that it isn’t, which is why it is so important
to take some hope from this year’s small victories
like the Muslim ban being blocked by the courts
after massive public protests. -(AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUDS)
-Or, or, the attempts… to appeal Obamacare stalling, thanks in part to people
pressuring their lawmakers. And, just this week,
just this week in Virginia, voters rejected Ed Gillespie
for governor after he ran a Trump-style,
dog-whistle campaign. And that is encouraging
because it’s nice to know that if you use Trump tactics in a Virginia gubernatorial
election, you do not get
to be “gubernator.” -(AUDIENCE LAUGHS)
-Now… further down the ballot there, Tuesday also marked the defeat
of Bob Marshall, who earlier this year proposed
a so-called bathroom bill. He lost to Danica Roem,
who will now be Virginia’s first openly transgender
legislator. And the tone that she has taken
is already markedly different. Danica, you were running
against, um, Robert Marshall, an incumbent,
thirteen-term incumbent. He’s also a man who referred
to himself as “Virginia’s chief homophobe.”He refused to debate you
during the campaign.
Do you have anything
you wanna say to him? Come January, delegate Marshall
will be one of my constituents and I’m not gonna disrespect
my own constituents. Wow, that is incredibly
refreshing. Just think about that. She beat a man who openly
disrespected her, but given the opportunity,
she chose not to respond by tweeting… (READS TWEET) (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) It’s nice! It’s nice not
to have that. And, look, Tuesday’s results
should not make you complacent. They are absolutely no
guarantee that the midterms will turn out at all well. That is why, though, you should take these moments
of encouragement to help you keep going. Because the Trump Presidency
is basically a marathon. It’s painful, it’s pointless,
and the majority of you didn’t even agree to run it. You were just signed up by
your dumbest friend. And– And the fact is we are not even at mile six
right now, or possibly even mile three. So, there is a long way to go, and though you’re exhausted
and your whole body is screaming for you to give up,
and your nipples are chafing for some reason,
the stakes are too high for any of us to stop. And, I do realize that
I’m saying that as we’re about to stop doing
shows for the year. But– But here’s the thing, we won’t actually
be going away entirely. You might remember
earlier this year, we used our “Catheter Cowboy”
to try and get information to the president in the
ad breaks ofFox & Friends.Well, Trump is still watching
that show and we know this becauseThe Timeswrote
a generally negative piece about its enormous
influence on him. And because of that called it “…the most powerful TV show
in America.” A sentiment that the hosts
were very excited about. This program,
the program you’re watching, is, according to
The New York Times,
“…the most powerful TV show
in America.” -TUCKER CARLSON: Wow!
-AINSLEY EARHARDT:
Do you know why Steve? Because we have
the best viewers. Yes. -No.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) No, you don’t. Uh,
you– you absolutely don’t. Oh, an– and look,
don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that we have
the best viewers. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING, CHEERING)
-No, no. I’m not saying that. No! I’m explicitly
not saying that. You guys… are fine. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) The best audience belongs
toEllenbecause this is how they greet her… ANNOUNCER:Here she is now…
Ellen DeGeneres.
-(AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUDS)
-♪ (MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ None of you fuckers did that -when I came out.
-(AUDIENCE CHEERS LOUDLY) None of you did it! But, the point is,
the point here is, just 45 minutes after that
information was on Fox, Trump tweeted… (READS TWEET) So information goes right
from that show into his brain,
which is terrible. Because we would genuinely be
better off if Trump was getting daily briefings
from an actual fox and his friends,
a hedgehog and a weasel with its head stuck
in a tin can. But, if Trump is going to keep
watching that show, we are going to spend
our hiatus sneaking information
through our Catheter Cowboy. So– so a number of commercials
are going to be airing onFox Newsover
the next few months. Here is the first one… NARRATOR:Attention
catheter patients…
I’m a professional cowboy. I use catheters and there’s
two things I know. I don’t like pain when I “cath”
and the term “clean coal” doesn’t refer to the physical
act of cleaning coal, that would be impossible. Coal is coal. Clean coal is a
marketing term the coal industry came up with for stuff like carbon capture
and sequestration, an expensive process that’s
shown limited results at best. Also, Frederick Douglass
is dead. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-More tomorrow. Bye-bye. -(AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUDS)
-That’s good information
for him to know. That will be on Fox in the D.C.
area later this week. And keep an eye out
for more of them, because that cowboy has got
a bunch up his sleeve. The U.S. Virgin Islands
has a governor, not a president. Here’s a fun fact… There’s actually no federal law
against this, thanks to something called
the “First Amendment.” Just because Jared Kushner
is smarter than you, doesn’t mean that he’s smart. The Navy Seals
aren’t actually seals. I know buddy.
I was disappointed, too. There are many non-gold
decor schemes that are actually very appealing. During an eclipse,
don’t do this… Buddy, this can’t be that hard. Nazi’s… bad. One fish, two fish, red fish… Arm of the executive branch
that should operate free from White House
interference so as to avoid politically
motivated prosecution. -Donald, Donald.
-(GLASS TAPPING) I don’t think he’s gettin’
any of this. That’s all for now, Donald.
See ya tomorrow. And, remember, if you’re
not enjoying this, there’s no shame in quittin’. (AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUDS)

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