John Oliver (HBO)

John Oliver takes Donald Trump to task over mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton

Oliver powerfully addressed the recent shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, during "Last Week Tonight"

Zack Sharf
August 5, 2019 9:59PM (UTC)

This article originally appeared on IndieWire.

John Oliver opened the August 4 edition of his HBO talk show “Last Week Tonight” with a blistering message to Donald Trump over the most recent mass shootings in America. Two shootings took place within 24 hours of each other over the weekend. A shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on August 3 left 20 dead and more than two dozen people wounded. The next day a shooting occurred in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people and leaving 26 others injured. The El Paso shooting is being investigated as a hate crime after police discovered the suspect published an anti-immigrant manifesto.

“While it’s still very early, it does feel like there are a couple of points that seem worth mentioning here,” Oliver said at the start of his show. “First, when it comes to gun control, I know it can feel like everything’s been said before, but while the depressingly familiar numbness that you may be currently feeling can help you handle the pain in the short term, in the long term, it can actually be a real problem because unless something hurts as much as it’s supposed to, nothing gets done about it.”


Oliver continued, “And something has got to be done here, and not just about guns, but the El Paso shooting is currently being investigated as a hate crime. And the shooter’s manifesto featured anti-immigrant language that may well be familiar to you from certain cable networks and certain presidents. Clearly, white nationalism and anti-immigrant hysteria did not start with this president, but he certainly seems to have created an environment where those kinds of views can fester and indeed thrive. In fact, just three months ago as he was deliberately winding up a crowd with the image of 15,000 immigrants marching toward the border, this happened.”

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“Late Week Tonight” then cut to a notorious Trump speech in which he asked a crowd in Florida about how to stop migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. An audience member shouted at Trump, “Shoot them!” Trump laughed and replied, “That’s only in the Panhandle [where] you can get away with that statement. Only in the Panhandle.”


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Now addressing Trump and America at large, Oliver concluded, “Here’s the thing about that. It is not only in the Panhandle where you can get away with that statement, you can now get away with this all over the country — and, as he just made painfully clear, in any room the actual president is in, which is absolutely appalling. And that is something we cannot afford to get numb to. Because if a moment like that ever even feels like it’s become normal, we are completely fucked.”

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“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” airs Sunday nights at 11pm ET on HBO.

Zack Sharf

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