On Sunday’s edition of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver delivered an update on what he’s coined “Stupid Watergate” in honor of the one-year anniversary of the Mueller investigation—or a “witch-hunt,” according to the hysterical folks over at State TV (Fox News).
“Yes, they’ve been derisively referring to the Mueller investigation as a ‘witch-hunt,’ which is a little ironic, because you just know if Giuliani, Hannity, and Trump had been alive back when people burned witches, they’d have had front-row seats toasting marshmallows while trying to conceal their boners,” joked Oliver.
He added: “It’s also a strange claim considering that Mueller has, in the past year, charged 20 people and three companies and gathered five guilty pleas. So if this is a witch-hunt, witches exist.”
Oliver pointed to a recent Monmouth University poll that found just 54 percent of Americans say Mueller’s investigation should continue—down from 60 percent in March. The falling number, Oliver argued, is due in part to the myriad attempts “to actively undermine” the Mueller investigation from Trump’s army of highly paid sycophants at Fox News.
The comedian then threw to a clip of Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani explaining his bizarre cable-news tactics as follows: “Our jury is the American people.”
“He’s right, because it is the long-standing view of the Justice Department that you can’t indict a sitting president, so to the extent that Trump can be held accountable it’s going to be through impeachment, where public opinion is key,” argued Oliver.
Oliver then broke down the Fox News Army’s three diversionary tactics for swaying public opinion about the Mueller investigation: Redefine, Whataboutism, and Counternarrative.
As far as their attempts to “redefine the investigation on their terms,” Oliver threw to a series of clips of Fox News hosts asking, “Where is there any evidence of collusion?”
“It is important to remember Mueller wasn’t tasked with finding proof of ‘collusion.’ The word ‘collusion’ doesn’t even appear in his appointment letter,” Oliver explained. “In actuality, he was tasked with looking into links and coordination between the Russian government and anyone associated with the Trump campaign as well as ‘any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.’ That’s a pretty broad mandate. So saying the investigation has to shut down if there’s no collusion is like saying a game of Scrabble has to end if you can fit all the letters in your mouth. Well, congratulations, but those aren’t really the rules we agreed too.”
Then there’s whataboutism—or “shifting the debate to someone else’s wrongdoing.” It’s a tactic that Sean Hannity is unquestionably the king of, constantly invoking the potential culpability of the Clintons, Comey, FBI agents, Fusion GPS, you name it.
“Hannity’s point there is that other people did bad things so Trump’s bad things don’t count. And let me be clear on this: Whether or not someone else did something shitty has no bearing over whether you did something shitty. If that were true, every movie that got a bad review could say, ‘What about From Justin to Kelly?’” cracked Oliver.
Last but certainly not least is “building a counternarrative: essentially trying to delegitimize the investigation by framing it as a grand conspiracy to bring down Trump.”
“We know that in 2016, Don Jr. knowingly set up a meeting in Trump Tower with a person described to him as a ‘Russian government attorney’ with the promise that the person would provide information that ‘would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia’ as ‘part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.’ And we know this… because Don Jr. tweeted out the emails setting up the meeting ahead of a newspaper publishing them,” said Oliver, citing one example of questionable behavior.
He then threw to a clip of Hannity on Fox News referencing a Daily Caller piece citing a Senate hearing transcript saying a Russian-American lobbyist at the Don Jr. Trump Tower meeting claimed to personally know Hillary Clinton.
“So let me get this straight: You seem to be implying Hillary Clinton sent someone into Trump Tower to offer her opponent dirt on herself. You know what? Congratulations, Sean Hannity, you’ve officially come up with the Shittiest Conspiracy Theory Ever,” said Oliver.
The Last Week Tonight host eventually brought it back to the Monmouth University poll that found 54 percent of Americans (and dropping) want the Mueller investigation to continue: “They aren’t really interested in getting to the bottom of any of these questions, they’re trying to sow enough doubt that this number dips far enough below 50 percent to allow the whole investigation to be shut down. They are just working the jury.”