Donald Trump is known for his at times questionable grasp on facts, and John Oliver thinks he has the answer. On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, the first of a new season, the late-night host revealed plans for a series of television ads, the first of which will run on three networks in the D.C. area, designed to make sure the president is up to speed on important topics.
“Since taking office 412 years ago, Trump has made it clear that reality is not important to him,” Oliver said. Beyond repeating falsehoods, Trump has made bizarre claims like that the United States’ gross domestic product is below zero, and wildly guessing at the unemployment rate from anywhere between five percent to over 40 percent.
Oliver announced his new project: “Trump vs. Truth,” which aims to answer four basic questions:
1. How did we get a pathological liar in the White House?
2. Where are his lies coming from?
3. Why do so many people believe him?
4. What can we possibly do about it?
One of the most commonly cited is Trump’s repeated claim that up to five million people voted illegally in the election. This appears to have stemmed from one tweet in November, which was subsequently reported on InfoWars. In Oliver’s own words, “It spread like jet fuel among the right-wing sites.” Voters would later repeat Trump’s claim in media interviews, citing “the media” as a source.
“There is a pattern here: Trump sees something that jibes with his worldview, doesn’t check it, half remembers it, and then passes it on, at which point it takes on a life of its own and appears to validate itself,” Oliver said.
So Oliver is taking a new approach. Noting that the president watches a lot of cable news and that he likes to tweet about what he’s just been watching, Oliver showed a specially filmed ad that uses a cowboy speaking softly in a wood-paneled room, mimicking the style of pharmaceutical ads aimed at older people.
The ad explains what a nuclear triad is and why it’s important, something Trump struggled with on the campaign trail. For the record, a triad consists of land-, air-, and sea-based nuclear weapon delivery systems. The idea is that an enemy would struggle to destroy all three in a first-strike attack. The ad will air Monday morning, between 8.30 a.m. and 9 a.m. on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News in the D.C. area.
“Until we’re shut down, we are prepared to educate Donald Trump one by one on topics we’re pretty sure he doesn’t know about,” Oliver said. Other topics lined up include how the unemployment rate is calculated, who lives in inner cities, and where the clitoris is located.
Last Week Tonight airs Sundays on HBO.