THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 2016. DUE TO A TECHNICAL ISSUE IT IS RE-POSTED AGAIN. APOLOGIES TO READERS WHO HAVE ALREADY SEEN IT.
ESTIMATED READING TIME : 11 MINUTES
This is our third article in our new series, THE JOHN OLIVER TWIST, where we monitor TV's political comedians and hold them accountable. The original article, COURT JESTER AS PROPAGANDA TOOL can be found HERE. The second article, THE DRUMPF AFFAIR AND LITTLE BILL MAHER'S POWER FETISH, can be found HERE.
This past Sunday, March 20, 2016, John Oliver was at it again on his HBO show "Last Week Tonight". As Always, Brave Sir John was the right-wing establishment wolf dressed in a rebellious left-wing sheep's clothing. The topics this week on episode 6 of season 3…protests in Brazil and Donald Trump/s xenophobic border wall. Let's take a closer look to see where Brave Sir John pulled the bait and switch on his starry-eyed, lapdog, liberal followers. Here is the Brazil protest segment of the episode for those of you who were lucky enough to miss it.
The opening segment was on Brazil, which happens to be in the midst of a terrible economic downturn, and the anti-government protests that have rocked the country recently. The protests are in response to alleged widespread corruption by the left-wing Workers Party government of President Dilma Rousseff and her mentor and predecessor Lulu Da Silva, involving the state-owned oil company Petrobras and an investigation known as Operation Car Wash. The anti-government protestors are calling for Rousseff to be impeached, and for Rousseff and Lula to be charged with crimes. It is, as NBC's Chuck Todd recently re-tweeted, a case of the "People vs. The President"…or at least that is what the media establishment in the U.S., John Oliver included, and Brazil, would have us believe. Brazil's political situation is certainly a potential comedic goldmine, so let's take a closer look and see if John Oliver went down the right mine shaft or if he gave his viewers the shaft.
Here is a little context on the "anti-government protests" of which Brave Sir John is so enamored. Take a look at this picture of the protestors….notice anything a little funny?
In case you are color blind I'll help you out, the protestors are overwhelmingly white. In fact, according to polls cited by Joshua Howet Berger of yahoo News, the protestors against Rousseff and her leftist government are "significantly richer, whiter and more educated than Brazilians at large." At the largest anti-governemnt protests in Sao Paulo, 77% of the demonstrators self identified as white, and 77% were university graduates. In the entirety of Brazil these numbers are dramatically lower, with 48% of the population White and only 13% university graduates.
To expand our context a bit more, understand that Brazil's population of 200 million people is roughly 50.7% Black/Brown, and Black/Brown people make up a disproportionately larger percentage of the populace living in poverty, 70%, than they do of the overall population. Black/Brown people also make up 68% of homicide victims and 62% of the prison population. In other words, Brazil has a pretty serious race problem. In addition, according to a study by the BBC, "Brazil has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the world." If we broaden our context to Brazilian history, the deep roots of that income and racial inequality are easy to see as Brazil was the last country in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery in 1888.
What does any of this have to do with John Oliver and his Brazil bit? Well, take a look at this other picture. This was taken of a family heading out to attend the anti-government protest of which John Oliver is spoke and supports.
This picture should be the Holy Grail for a rebellious liberal comedian like Oliver as it captures perfectly the hypocritical core of the protests against the left wing government. Rich, white people, with their pure-bred dog, out to protests their suffocating oppression at the hands of the left wing government with their black nanny in tow wearing her uniform, pushing their two children. HOLY SHIT!! Is this not the kind of picture that gives a supposed liberal comedian like Brave Sir John wet dreams? I can hear his voice…"Keep up Maria!! We can't be late to the anti-government protest!! We need to oust this oppressive left-wing government which forces us to pay you a livable minimum wage!! It's for your own good Maria!! Followed by…""Maria you need to wear all whtie today so you match little Fifi, my husband and I are wearing matching green and yellow, so you should wear the same color as the dog since you and Fifi are equals in my eyes!!Viva La Revolucion!!" But Oliver never mentioned this infamous picture, nor did he ever mention the racial component (white) of the anti-government protests, or of the pro-government protests that followed (Black/Brown).
The closer you look at what Brave Sir John kept out, the curiouser his Brazil segment becomes. Another aspect that Oliver failed to mention can be found in a terrific article at The Intercept written by Glenn Greenwald, which tells us that the white, wealthy, anti-government protestors are being relentlessly egged on by the corporate Brazilian media which are owned by a small group of, not surprisingly, rich, white oligarchs with a long track record of nefarious political activities. The main culprit is a media monster known as Globo, which is basically the Fox News of Brazil. How bad is Globo? Well, in 1964 there was a military coup in Brazil which overthrew a democratically elected left wing government, just so you know, this coup was backed and funded by the U.S., another little factoid that Brave Sir John would never mention. Anyway, this coup led to over twenty years of brutal, right-wing, pro-U.S., military dictatorship which tortured, murdered, disappeared and imprisoned political opposition. This coup was fully supported by Globo and the rest of the oligarch media and their ownership of a handful of plutocratic families, which described the coup as "a noble defeat of a corrupt left wing government." If that sounds eerily reminiscent of what is going on in Brazil right now…well, it would seem with U.S. backed right wing South American coups, as with fashion, everything old is new again.
So what we have is John Oliver, a darling of the liberal class here in America, taking the side of the wealthy, white, right-wing Brazilians and their mouthpiece media monster Globo, which is basically a Portuguese language Fox News on steroids, in their attempt to overthrow a democratically elected left wing government that has, through various government programs like raising the minimum wage, lifted tens of millions our of poverty and hunger, many of those millions being the poor Black/Brown Brazilians who are now protesting in support of the government. Let that sink in for a minute. A very understated comparison would be if John Oliver were supporting the Tea Party and Fox News in an attempt to remove Obama from the Presidency because of Obamacare.
Well, you may ask…what about the corruption? There is no doubt that the terribly flawed left wing Worker's Party government of Rousseff is corrupt…but you know who else is corrupt? The right wing governments that preceded Lulu And Rousseff in office and the one that would take her place if she is impeached. In fact, according to that same article by Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept, "five members of the impeachment commission are themselves being investigated as part of the same corruption scandal that is threatening to bring down Rousseff. Of the 65 members of the House impeachment committee, 36 are currently facing legal proceedings." The right wing opposition leader who would replace Rousseff if she were impeached is Vice-President Michel Temer, who, surprise, surprise, has also been identified as having accepted bribes in the same scandal that embroils Rousseff. Hold onto your hats because, shock…the opposition Senate leader, Aecio Neves, has also been implicated five times in this same exact scandal. Another understated but apt comparison would be when during the 90's, republicans like Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston tried to impeach Bill Clinton for the Lewinsky affair, when they themselves were having affairs. In the opening of the Brazil segment, John Oliver says in a very dismissive and throw away fashion, that "the Rousseff government claims the charges are politically motivated", ummm…yeah…you think that might be a possibility? Goodness knows it certainly wouldn't be the first time.
So now we have an executive branch, president Rousseff and her predecessor Lulu, ensnared in corruption allegations, and the legislative branch tarred by the same corruption investigation, but at least the judiciary has clean hands in all of this…right? Right? RIGHT? Oh dear. Even this part of the story is rife with unbelievable corruption. Brave Sir John mentioned a "smoking gun" audiotape of a wiretapped conversation between Rousseff and Lulu that was released by the court which seems to indicate that Rouseff and Lulu were in cahoots to get Lulu protection from prosecution by making him part of her cabinet. With the help of Mr. Greenwald once again, a closer investigation of this "smoking gun" reveals that the judge who leaked the audiotape, Sergio Moro, obviously did so as a political maneuver to embarrass Rousseff and Lulu and to create the same street protests of which Brave Sir John is so enamored. A brief glance at the facts surrounding this audiotape, that Brave Sir John portrayed as powerful proof of Rousseff's and Lulu's looking guilty but which is, in reality, much more ambiguous than he claims, shows that the audiotape was illegally obtained after Moro's warrant had expired, and it was released to the media without any due process and only hours after the tape was made. This, of course, didn't stop the right wing Globo from dramatizing this "bombshell" revelation with all the journalistic integrity we have come to expect from out own 'Fair and Balanced" friends at Fox.
Oliver also mentioned that twenty judges have vowed to block Rousseff's attempt to get Lulu onto her cabinet, a move that Oliver described as an "outright revolt". It is an interesting choice of words because Oliver praises this "outright revolt" by the judiciary, but never mentions the judges connections to the upper class, white protests and the right wing opposition party. A judicial revolt is not democratic, and in fact, subverts the will of the populace in Brazil which over the last four presidential election has elected Lulu and Rousseff to the nations highest post. In the last presidential election alone, 54 million Brazilians voted for President Roussef. Would John Oliver's sycophant fans think he was so wonderful if he spoke the same way about Jstice Scalia and the Bush v. Gore decision of 200 which discontinued recounts and put the man with fewer votes, Bush, into the white house? Or the Senate republicans who are blocking Obama's Supreme Court nominee in his final year in office? Both of these pale in comparison to what is happening in Brazil right now but it gets the point across that Brave Sir John is up to no good and his liberal fans are none the wiser.
In regards to the state-run oil company Petrobras scandal, Brave Sir John was quick to point out that the only two words more suspicious than "state-run" are "oil company". He then quickly corrected himself and gave this list of the most suspicious two word phrases…1. Open Marriage 2. Well-spoken 3. Homeopathic remedy 4. State-run 5. father-daughter 6. Oil company 7. Discount sushi. As always Brave Sir John is nothing if not "clever", but beneath this clever cloak lies a steely establishment dagger. What is this establishment dagger? Let's take a closer look.
Brave Sir John's favorite tactic is to completley ignore context when attacking any country except the U.S. In his assault on the left in Brazil, he makes the blanket statement that "State-run" is a suspicious word. Good to know…I hope his liberal sycophants in the U.S. are listening so that they understand that single payer healthcare…which would be "state-run"…is very suspicious. As are social security, medicare, medicaid, law enforcement and the military to name but a few. Also, according to Brave Sir John the question becomes…why would ANY country have a state-run oil company? To Brave Sir John that idea is utter lunacy…the implication being that those dipshit Brazilians are just idiots. This is where context would help a great deal because as with nearly every country in South America, Brazil has a very long and dark history of being raped, ravaged, pillaged and plundered by Europeans and American colonialist powers. Brazil's natural and human resources have been exploited for centuries by powerful outsider interests which subjugated much of the populace and stole most of the resources. This might be an important fact to point out when discussing the desire by Brazilians to nationalize their oil industries.
And as a supposed beacon of liberalism, Brave Sir John might also want to point out that it was U.S. multi-national companies that as recently as late last century were the ones leading the charge to exploit Brazil and its resources, and also destroying its Amazon rain forest in the process. But Brave Sir John would never do that because that would mean standing up to the Establishment which is anathema in the weak kneed world of John Oliver.
It also would have been helpful in regards to the "state-run" issue, to point out that the U.S. was behind the coup in 1964 that overthrew the democratically elected left wing government and installed a brutal right wing military dictatorship. That right wing dictatorship ruled from 1964 to 1985…which might be important piece of information if you are trying to explain why, after returning to democracy in 1986, Brazil would eventually in 2002 embrace the left wing Worker's Party and "state-run" oil companies after decades of severe right wing dictatorial rule and the exploitation by multi-national companies that came with it.
The context of the '64 coup might also be useful in understanding that not everything his what it appears to be in Brazil, namely that these wealthy, white, right wing protests might be backed by powerful foreign interests…like…I don't know…the United States, which has a very long and odious history of partaking in such covert operations in the region.
These facts are uncomfortable for Brave Sir John because they go against the establishment narrative that he routinely espouses and vociferously defends. As does the fact that in 2013 it was revealed that the U.S. was spying on President Rousseff and intercepting her texts, emails and phone calls…which might be an indicator that they were trying to dig up dirt on her to get her removed from her democratically held office of President.
Why would the U.S. want to remove Rousseff and her left wing government from office? This is a geo-political move by the U.S. to strangle the potential economic, military, and political rival of the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) in the cradle. Removing the threat of the BRICS alliance guarantees that the world remains a uni-polar one, with the U.S. at the top, and not a multi-polar one where the BRICS are an admittedly weaker, although viable, alternative to U.S. domination. This is also why the U.S. has made covert moves against Russia in the form of the coup in Ukraine and the war in Syria. Coincidentally, or not, the moves against Putin and Russia also involved the Olympics, the 2014 Socchi Winter Olympics, which brought a great opportunity for a propaganda victory by the west over Putin. The moves against Rousseff coincide with this summer's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
What makes the Rio Olympics interesting is that there is also a massive corruption scandal swirling around them that is centered on the same ruthless construction monopolies at the heart of the Petrobras/Car-Wash investigation that has enveloped Rousseff, but the political party involved with the Olympic corruption is the center right opposition party to the Worker's Party, so for the time being that investigation has been thwarted.
Construction magnate Marcelo Oderbrecht, whose company Odebrecht was at the heart of the Petrobras corruption, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for his role in that scandal. Odebrecht was also involved in building much of the World Cup and Olympic venues, but the company's criminality in those cases has been ignored for now. As a Rio based journalist told The Nation's Dave Zirin, " The contrcution Indistrial Complex in Brazil is similar to the Military Industrial Complex in the U.S. Instead of Haliburton and the Carlyle Group, Brazil has Odebrecht and all the rest ." Brave Sir John has taken on FIFA corruption on his show, so why not take on Olympic corruption in Rio? Why not expose the Construction Industrial Complex and its connection to the opposition trying to take down the Worker's Party in Brazil? This seems to be fertile ground for a comedian whose legion of fans are avowed liberals, does it not?
To close out the Brazil piece, Brave Sir John in passing states that there were "pro-government rallies" as well. In his next breath he went on to the next segment. Ummm…the fact that there were "pro-government" rallies is kind of an important point, and it actually undermines the majority of the segment that preceded that acknowledgment. A closer inspection of both the anti and pro-government rallies also reveals something quite extraordinary that Brave Sir John might wanted to enlighten his audience with. Namely, that the people who dislike Rousseff and the Worker's Party are openly calling for a military coup to overthrow the government and to, in a wonderful bit of Orwellian flourish, "restore democracy". The Brazilian oligarch class is pissed off by the social changes that have taken place in Brazil during the 13 years of Worker Party rule in the country…changes like a higher minimum wage and greatly reduced poverty and hunger. As Duke University historian John French told Yahoo News, that wealthy, white Brazilians are "discomforted by the fact that people are rising to places where they're not supposed to be, for example, a lot of poor people are now flying in airplanes, which really outrages them because airports used to be an upper-class preserve. Or the tripling of the number of people going to higher education."
If this story were based in the U.S. wouldn't John Oliver and his ilk be in total support of the impoverished Black minority fighting against an uprising by wealthy white elites? The answer is, of course, yes. In fact, race would be the central issue in the story for people like John Oliver….you know how I know that…because he makes it the central issue later in the same episode with his segment on Trump's Mexican wall. But in the case of Brazil, since it has a leftist government, Brave Sir John takes the side of American corporate and foreign policy establishment interests which loathe the Worker's Party and Rousseff and Lulu, over that of its historically dispossessed and marginalized poor Black/Brown population. If anyone else were doing that, Brave Sir John would call them a racist…so what does that make him…a racist, a hypocrite and an imperial asshat?
With the Brazil segment Oliver did what he always does in regards to South and Central America, he attacked only the leftists who stand for their native people against the U.S. establishment…remember his assault on President Correa of Ecuador last season? Why would Brave Sir John, a supposed liberal, only attack South American leftists and their policy? And why wouldn't he openly declare that was what he was doing? The answer is obvious, he was covertly doing the dirty work for the U.S. establishment by inoculating his liberal audience from thinking critically about America's imperial foreign policy in the region.
Brave Sir John's modus operandi is to completely ignore context and nuance when trying too make an argument, and the Brazil story is testament to that. Oliver's turning a blind eye to the crucial context of these protests is damning and incontrovertible confirmation that he is an agent of disinformation who intentionally obfuscates the truth and deliberately misinform his audience.
Will Brave Sir John's liberal audience actually inform themselves about the slow-motion coup taking place in Brazil and hold John Oliver accountable for being a lackey to the establishment and powerful here in America? It is doubtful, you know why? Because he distracts his intellectually self-satisfied minions by wrapping his imperial foreign policy and establishment ass kissing, in a fuzzy, warm blanket of domestic liberalism. You know how I know that? Because, in keeping with his tried and true formula, he followed up his assault on the Worker's Party of Brazil, with the delicious liberal red meat of deconstructing the reasoning and logistics of Donald Trump's xenophobic Mexican wall. The liberal establishment swooning over Oliver when he takes on Trump reaches uncomfortably pornographic proportions, so I wouldn't count on much self-refelction from that crew of mindless, yet self-satisfied dupes.
The truth of what John Oliver is really up to with his HBO show is very clear to see for those interested in looking. When presented with the choice of siding with the wealthy, white, fascist oligarchy or the downtrodden and their very flawed leftist government, Oliver chooses the former. Time after time, when given the choice between the powerful and those fighting for the powerless, Brave Sir John chooses the powerful. While his audience are overwhelmingly avowed liberals, Brave Sir John knows where his bread is truly buttered…on the side of the establishment and empire. Well done, Brave Sir John, another episode of "Last Week Tonight" and another misinformation mission accomplished.
UPDATE I - MAY 25, 2016
Some new information has come to light on the coup in Brazil…I am pretty positive that Brave Sir John won't do a segment on this material because it is inconvenient to his rabid pro-U.S. establishment argument. Please read the following.
UPDATE II - JUNE 3, 2016
The hits keep on coming down in Brazil. Please read this new piece from Glenn Greenwald…another bit of information that Brave Sir John won't share on his show.
And for more information on John Oliver and Brazil, check out the new John Oliver Twist : Things Said and Unsaid