John Oliver’s weekly HBO show, "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," debuted on Sunday night with coverage of the ongoing Indian general elections and an interview with former NSA Chief Keith Alexander. If you were unaware that the Indian elections were happening right now, Oliver points out exactly who you should blame: American cable news.
“Cable news does not need to be focusing on an election that is happening in 926 days when there is an important one happening right now that they are all completely ignoring,” Oliver said after showing a compilation of clips from MSNBC, CNN and Fox pundits discussing the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. “The biggest election in human history is taking place in India right now. Nearly one fifth of the world's working age population lives there. It has a direct economic impact on America.”
Oliver provided short biographies of the two leading candidates in the Indian elections, Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. He mocked the uproar over Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal in comparison to Modi’s own scandal: that, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, he failed to stop the 2002 anti-Muslim violence that killed more than 1,000 people in his state.
“Is that enough of a scandal for you?” Oliver said. “Because bear in mind how much time we spent in this country covering a story about a bridge-based traffic jam in which the worst that happened to any Muslims involved is that they were slightly delayed.
“We should care about this story. If polls are to be believed, we may be throwing state dinners for this guy in the near future.”
Oliver has a point. More than 814 million people are eligible to vote in the Indian elections. In terms of global health and standards of living, those elections is vastly more important than the American midterms or even our presidential election in 2016. The fact that the U.S. cable news networks have ignored it almost entirely is disappointing, but it was heartening to see Oliver attempt to fill that gap—and be funny while doing so. It's an approach that has worked for Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show," where Oliver was a senior correspondent for eight years. Let's hope Oliver keeps up the pressure.
Watch the full segment: