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John Oliver Calls Out Fox News for Troubling Misreporting on Portland Protests

Oliver said Portland is being used “as a staging ground by the president to put on an authoritarian show of force — and this could end very badly.”

"Last Week Tonight"

“Last Week Tonight”


John Oliver used the July 26 episode of “Last Week Tonight” to slam Fox News for misreporting on the protests in Portland, Oregon, which have been happening regularly over the last two months following the death of George Floyd. Federal agents, strangely unmarked and lacking identification, were sent to Portland, ostensibly to monitor the protests. But video footage has surfaced of these agents using violence against protestors, plus arresting protestors and detaining them in unmarked vans. The footage stands in contrast to Trump’s recent claims that “we’re doing a great job in Portland.”

“The protests in Portland have actually been going on daily for nearly two months now, since the killing of George Floyd,” Oliver said to viewers. “But the deployment of federal agents was a sharp escalation of questionable legality, and yet, to hear the president tell it, he had no choice and it was a terrific idea.”

Speaking to Trump’s claims, Oliver responded, “It’s never good when Trump says he’s doing a ‘great job,’ given that he thinks his administration is doing a ‘great job’ dealing with the coronavirus, and he once proclaimed Ben Affleck would do a ‘great job’ as Batman. Clearly, this man has no sense of what a ‘great job’ actually looks like.”

Oliver also noted that “those agents were very much not called in,” referring to how the governor of Oregon and the mayor of Portland have claimed Trump deployed the agents and they had no say in the agents getting involved in the protest themselves.

“Masked individuals throwing people into an unmarked van is never a good idea if you want to de-escalate a situation,” the late night host added. “It’s not even a good idea for a surprise bachelorette party.”

Turning his attention to Fox News, Oliver played clips of Sean Hannity reporting on the protests with a graphic that reads “VIOLENCE IN PORTLAND.” Hannity proceeded to call the protest behavior “insane.” Several bullet points expanding on the type of violence occurring in Portland listed graffiti. Oliver said that if you’re watching Fox News’ coverage then you’re led to believe “it’s the end of America as we know it.” Hannity even reported on a “fire-bombing” that took place amid the protests, but it turns out that language escalates the reality of the situation.

“Yeah, it is insane—because that tone does not honestly reflect the conditions on the ground,” Oliver said. “That ‘fire-bombing,’ for instance, seems to be a reference to either a firework or a small fire that was set, which is significantly less dramatic than he’s trying to make it sound. And that rolling list next to Hannity’s head is mostly graffiti! In fact, graffiti is listed 12 times in a row there under the headline ‘VIOLENCE IN PORTLAND,’ which is a huge overstatement.”

“Look, the troubling thing here is that Portland seems to be used as a staging ground by the president to put on an authoritarian show of force, and this could end very badly,” Oliver concluded, “especially as he’s now apparently threatened to use federal force in other cities as well, which is absolutely outrageous.”


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