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John Oliver explains how news readers have no idea what’s real anymore

These are desperate times, and they apparently call for desperate measures. 


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Aug 4, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 8:21 pm CDT

Does anyone remember the aniquated idea of church and state? The dubious blurring of lines between advertising and editorial was the focus of John Oliver’s Sunday night monologue, and it was depressing. 

“News is like porn,” Oliver says. “People don’t want to play for it on the Internet, even though somewhere in a dimly lit room, Paul Krugman worked very hard to make it.” New media organizations have subtly integrated native advertising into their business model, and Oliver cites BuzzFeed in particular for camouflaging ads as lists. Last year, The Atlantic famously ran an ad for Scientology, packaged as an editorial.

Old media organizations like Time have picked up on the scent, too. Oliver showed a clip of Time CEO Joseph Ripp, who explains his editors are very happy working for the business side now: 

“No longer are we asking ourselves the question, ‘Are we violating church and state,’ whatever that was.”

Cue old white man rage face. Oliver states that he knows he’s lucky he’s on HBO, where he can freely say, “Cadbury Creme Eggs are filled with dolphin sperm.”

“Ads are baked into content like chocolate chips into a cookie,” Oliver explains in conclusion. “Except, it’s actually more like raisins into a cookie because no one fucking wants them there.”

Screengrab via Last Week Tonight With John Oliver/YouTube 

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*First Published: Aug 4, 2014, 11:18 am CDT