Last month marked the one-year anniversary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. To mark the fact that President Trump hasn’t shut down the investigation like he so badly wants to, John Oliver is here to tell us not to count our chickens before they hatch.
In the latest segment about “Stupid Watergate” on Last Week Tonight, a series that Oliver defines as covering a scandal “potentially on the scale of Watergate, but where everyone involved is dumb and terrible and bad at everything,” he calls out Trump and his Fox News friends for actively undermining Mueller’s investigation. The host also suggests that conservative pundits are doing their best to cast any and all doubt on the probe into the Trump administration.
Oliver opens the segment with the troubling news that only about half (54 percent) of Americans support continuing the investigation. The number is down from 62 percent in the earlier days of the investigation, despite the progress the investigation has made, leading to numerous indictments and guilty pleas. As Oliver’s puts it, “if this is a witch hunt, then witches definitely exist.”
Oliver suggests that the conservative media has played a big role in the aforementioned decrease and outlines three tactics that he believes the media outlets are using to convince the “jury” (i.e., the public) that Mueller’s probe should be suspended: redefining the investigation, whataboutism and building a counternarrative. The biggest takeaways from these categories are as follows.
First: Mueller was never actually tasked with finding collusion and it’s nonsensical for conservative commentators to call for the end of the investigation if there is no evidence of collusion. “Saying the investigation has to shut down if there is no collusion is like saying that a game of Scrabble has to end because you fit all the letters in your mouth,” Oliver jokes. “Well, congratulations, but those aren’t really the rules that we agreed to.”
Second: Pointing out that someone else did something shitty doesn’t make what one’s own shitty actions any less shitty.
And finally: that Donald Trump is “going full OJ, and it’s working.” Because if we’ve learned anything from the OJ trial, it’s that if you create a conspiracy theory that undermines at least one thing in the system, then people likely won’t believe anything else. Oliver includes a clip of one of OJ’s lawyers saying, “If they manufactured evidence on the sock, how can you trust anything?” for proof. Well, there you have it—everything is a simulation.
But in all seriousness, Oliver warns that public opinion of the investigation will likely dictate whether Congress decides to take action against Trump and that diminishing support means they’ll be less likely to. The tactics he outlines are “depressingly effective” when you consider that the only way Trump can be held accountable is through impeachment, since you can’t indict a sitting president.
Hear Sean Hannity refer to Watergate as a Snickers bar in Sunday’s Last Week Tonight below.