In the latest episode of his HBO show, host John Oliver slammed President Donald Trump over his response to the coronavirus but went comparatively easy on China for its cover-ups and attempts to silence government whistleblowers.
On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, Oliver devoted nearly five straight minutes to mocking President Trump for “peddling false hope” and failing to speak clearly during recent press conferences on the coronavirus.
In contrast, the British comedian spent just 20 seconds addressing Beijing’s cover-ups during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, which he admitted helped the virus spread and infect thousands of people.
In his monologue, Oliver made fun of President Trump’s decision to appoint Vice President Mike Pence to lead the government’s coronavirus efforts. He also mocked the White House press conference that took place Wednesday, calling it a “debacle” and showing selectively edited clips from the event.
“This was a press conference meant to calm the nation, and with the most basic question of who would be running things seemingly up in the air, he just fucked right off. Look, I know we’re used to only seeing Businessman Trump, but it is nice to occasionally get a glimpse of the absentee father in him too.”
Oliver also accused President Trump of “lying” about the coronavirus but didn’t provide any evidence that the president told lies. The comedian added that the president is “peddling false hope” about the disease.
“It’s also concerning that Trump’s main focus when discussing the virus seems to be downplaying any potentially bad news,” he said.
Oliver continued, during his six-minute Trump-bashing rant, to make fun of the president for saying that flu viruses tend to wane during warmer months, which the comedian later conceded was true. Still, he added, “this is a bad time to have president who can’t speak clearly.”
But when it came to holding China”s Communist dictatorship accountable, Oliver spent a mere 10 seconds on Beijing’s slow response to the initial outbreak, and then another 10 seconds on its efforts to silence whistleblowers.
“Initially, the Chinese government wasn’t just slow to respond. Officials tried to silence and punish medical professionals who tried to raise the alarm, which almost certainly helped the disease to spread.”
Later, Oliver briefly mentioned the Chinese doctor who blew the whistle on Beijing but who was silenced and eventually died of the virus.
“Despite the government’s effort at containment, over 2700 people have now died in China, among them Dr. Li Wenliang, an early whistleblower silenced by officials who has since become a symbol for citizens’ anger at their government’s response.”
The rest of Oliver’s monologue offered muted approval of China’s leaders: “And when the Chinese leadership finally decided to act, it moved aggressively, putting 50 million people on lockdown.”
Oliver felt the wrath of China’s Communist dictatorship in 2018 when he dared to criticize President Xi Jinping. As a result, mentions of the British comedian were blocked on China’s most popular social media sites. Oliver had criticized President Xi for China’s treatment of the Muslim minority Uighur population, as well as for the recent removal of term limits for China’s president.
Last Week Tonight airs on HBO, which is a division of WarnerMedia. Both WarnerMedia and parent company AT&T have extensive business interests in China, which require them to cozy up to Communist party leaders in order to secure favorable deals.