John Oliver’s sendup of the news industry for preposterous ideas like Tronc is both hilarious and sad. Oliver digs into the video history bag to remind us that Sam Zell really did own a newspaper company at one point and thought that stories about cats could possibly support stories about crime and corruption. He also calls out Sheldon Adelson for instructing journalists at the Las Vegas Review Journal not to post negative stories about him or any of his properties. And the mashup of “Spotlight” with the investigative crew assigned to dig up everything it can about racoon kittens is flat-out genius. The quotes from Washington Post Editor Marty Barron about the workload news reporters have to process these days is poignant.
They aren’t laughing at the Newspaper Association of America, though, which called Oliver’s piece “petty insults” and noted that the humorist offered no solutions. Fair enough, but is it the job of a comedian to offer solutions? Pointing out absurdities like the click-bait headline atop this post is the first step toward solving problems, and thank goodness we have people like Oliver and Jon Stewart to point out what a circus media has become. It’s sad that comedians have to play the role of fact-checkers in this industry, but at least someone is willing to call out the emperor for having no clothes.