John Oliver on Fox News's pipe bombs coverage: 'A time for wild speculation'

The Last Week Tonight host criticised the network for promoting unconfirmed conspiracy theories over the spate of pipe bombs

John Oliver has criticised Fox News over the network’s decision to push unconfirmed conspiracy theories in their coverage of the Florida mail bomb suspect.

On his HBO show Last Week Tonight, Oliver started with a summary of a “particularly grim” week in the US, including a spate of mail bombs sent to high-profile critics of the president.

“It has been a time of sober reflection or if you’re Fox News discussing those package bombs, a time for wild speculation,” he said. “Because before the suspect was even arrested, they were giving airtime to a truly ludicrous theory.”

Before the suspect had been identified, the network was giving airtime to pundits and “experts” who claimed that the situation sounded like a false-flag operation, a hoax launched by Democrats.

Geraldo Rivera was one of those pushing this theory, prefacing it by saying he didn’t want to sound like a “far-right lunatic” – something that amused Oliver.

“Sounding like a far-right lunatic is not really a risk for the Fox News brand, is it?” Oliver said. “It’s more of a guarantee.”

After the identity of the bomber was revealed, along with his obsession with the president and hatred of his enemies, Rivera tweeted that he had “outsmarted” himself with his earlier guess.

“Outsmarted myself is a brilliant way of saying you did something stupid,” Oliver said. “Wow, I really outsmarted myself this morning when I accidentally ate kitty litter instead of grape nuts.”

Oliver then spoke about Saudi Arabia, “the country with bans on pork, alcohol and porn – or, as it’s known in America, a Florida breakfast”.

The death of Jamal Khashoggi has continued to raise questions, and Saudi officials have released a string of increasingly unlikely explanations. Last week saw a statement that claimed Khashoggi had died after a disagreement. “Apparently it started when they had a disagreement over whether or not Khashoggi should be murdered in cold blood,” Oliver said.

He said that the “horrific situation has put Trump in a very difficult position” before calling Trump’s recent statement “very, very weird”.

Guardian staff

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