John Oliver Treats Jill Stein and Gary Johnson Like What They Are: Presidential Candidates (Video)
In the video above, the “Last Week Tonight” host powerfully dismisses the idea that third-party candidates are “spoilers” and expresses his understanding of the American public’s desire for alternatives to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In an assessment of both the Libertarian and Green Party candidates aired on the HBO show Sunday, Oliver vetted their positions and statements in a segment that contained quite a few jokes, and, admittedly, quite a bit of ridicule. Johnson came under attack for his less-than-detailed desire to rid the nation of several important government organizations, while Stein was criticized for making vague comments that, in Oliver’s view, seemed to egg on conspiracy theorists.
Yet perhaps being ridiculed by the comedian is part and parcel of running for office. In this sense, Oliver has offered the third-party candidates more respect than many other pundits have, including his political comedy peers (see Samantha Bee, for example, who refused to name Stein on her show). The “Last Week Tonight” host even groups the four candidates together at the end of his monologue (something most of the rest of the media have been reluctant to do, still treating third-party candidates like extras rather than main players), joking that on Nov. 8, Americans will have to choose between the lesser of four evils, not two.
“As uncomfortable as this is, everyone has to own the flaws of whoever you vote for,” says the host in his wrap-up. “Whether they are a lying, handsy, narcissistic sociopath; a hawkish, Wall Street-friendly embodiment of everything that some people can’t stand about politics; an ill-tempered mountain molester with a radical, dangerous tax plan that even he can’t defend; or conspiracy-pandering political neophyte with no clear understanding of how governments operate …”
One can understand how Stein and Johnson would be less than flattered by Oliver’s portrayals, however. While the Libertarian hasn’t publicly reacted to the clip, the Green Party candidate did respond to a tweet about the “Last Week Tonight” video.
Unbiased US media has done a great job of inflating disingenuous gotchas & resisting temptation to cover our actual platform or talk to us. https://t.co/VmxO395jaG
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) October 18, 2016
Stein makes a salient point—if the comedian’s analysis of the candidate is purely based on the limited coverage of the rest of the media, then perhaps his clip will inevitably absorb the same slant.
So was Oliver’s monologue another attempt at undermining third-party candidates during this crucial election or was the segment a serious (though comical) vetting of politicians running for the highest office in the land? In the words of recent Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan, perhaps “the answer is blowing in the wind.”Wait, before you go…
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