While Last Week Tonight host John Oliver still insists he’s not a journalist, he did defend his show’s emphasis on accuracy during an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos on Tuesday night.
Oliver revealed that he only had two days to conduct his interview with former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in Russia, telling Ramos that while the discussion was not tense, everything around it was.
“I felt like we were being watched all the time,” he said of his meeting with Snowden, which aired last month. “That’s because we probably were.”
Ramos drew a laugh out of Oliver when he asked why Snowden chose to talk to him and not a “respected journalist.”
“You’re right — I’m not a respected journalist,” Oliver said.
“Are you a journalist?” Ramos asked.
“I’m not. I’m a comedian,” Oliver replied.
“But you’re doing the job of a journalist,” Ramos pressed.
“I’m doing the job of a comedian,” Oliver said. “So, I make jokes about the news. I’m pretty clear about the lane that I’m in.”
Ramos pressed again, telling Oliver, “You have more credibility than most journalists here in the United States and, I would say, in many other countries.”
“But that is more an insult to the current state of journalism than it is a compliment for the state of comedy,” Oliver responded.
Later, Oliver commended his show’s fact-checking department, crediting his show’s model to his time working as a correspondent for Jon Stewart’s Daily Show.
“We have very aggressive fact checkers and very thorough researchers, so that we’re not wrong,” Oliver said. “Because if you make a joke about something that is factually inaccurate the joke collapses.”
Watch the interview, as aired on Fusion on Tuesday, below.
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