John Oliver Is First Late-Night Host to Call Out ‘Horrifying’ Harvey Weinstein
The ‘Last Week Tonight’ host succeeded where many of his competitors failed in taking the movie mogul to task over years of sexual-misconduct allegations.
It was, as John Oliver put it on Sunday, a week “both hectic and depressing.” It was one that began with the horrifying massacre in Las Vegas—the deadliest shooting in modern American history, with 58 people killed by a heavily armed gunman—and ended with yet another white-supremacist march on Charlottesville.
In the middle, somewhere between President Trump’s botched Puerto Rico response and Vice President Pence’s pre-planned, taxpayer-funded NFL anthem stunt, came the news that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein had allegedly been sexually harassing women for decades, with an in-depth New York Times investigation uncovering at least eight settlements between 1990 and 2015.
Weinstein, of course, is the former head of Miramax and then The Weinstein Company; a high-powered film executive who’s guided dozens of films and actors to Oscar glory (he’s since been terminated from the company he co-founded). He was also, in true hypocritical fashion, a donor to many progressive causes and participated in a satellite Women’s March at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
Since the disturbing allegations dropped, many Hollywood players who’ve benefited from Weinstein’s Midas touch have gone silent, while others like Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, Brie Larson, Lena Dunham, and Mark Ruffalo have spoken out against Weinstein.
Late-night programs, too, have been curiously silent on the Weinstein revelations. The Late Show, The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Late Night With Seth Meyers, Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, and Real Time With Bill Maher all declined even to mention the news, while The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah gave it just a passing nod. And, yes, while late-night programs don’t tape on Fridays, the Times story broke just prior to 2 p.m. ET Thursday, and late-night programs typically tape anywhere between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. ET, giving them enough time to regularly cover late-breaking Trump news.
Thankfully, Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver has broken the streak—first giving a shout-out to the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s infamous “grab them by the pussy” tape—in which he bragged about sexually assaulting women at will—and then segueing into the Weinstein news. No wonder Oliver wins all the Emmys.
“We marked the one-year anniversary of the Access Hollywood tape with a series of grim stories concerning the treatment of women,” said Oliver. “The Times published a massive exposé detailing movie executive Harvey Weinstein’s years of alleged sexual harassment, and his response was infuriating—because he and his attorneys admitted that he needs help while also denying the charges and threatening to sue the Times. And on top of that all, was this.”
“I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” stated Weinstein. “That was the culture then. I have since learned it’s not an excuse.”
Weinstein also, during his absurd, rambling apology, cited a fake JAY-Z quote and invoked his own bar mitzvah, just so we’re clear.
“Yeah, you’re right: Your excuse isn’t an excuse,” fired back Oliver. “In fact, it isn’t even an excuse for that behavior in the ’60s: ‘Well, back then we had no idea that women didn’t want to be forced to look at dicks! That wasn’t discovered by scientists until 1998. It was a different time.’”
Oliver then brought up a claim made in the wake of the Times piece by TV reporter Lauren Sivan, who alleged that Weinstein exposed himself to her in his restaurant before masturbating into a potted plant.
“And new stories are now coming out, including an allegation from one local news reporter that Weinstein ‘trapped [her] in the hallway of the restaurant,’ tried to kiss her, and when she refused, he ‘proceeded to expose himself’ before ejaculating quickly into a potted plant. So, step aside, Chocolat: You are no longer the most horrifying picture that Harvey Weinstein has ever produced,” cracked Oliver.
He added, “Meanwhile, Donald Trump, the Harvey Weinstein of presidents, had his own surprise for women this week.”
Of course, since no week is complete without a dose of terrible Trump administration news, the Trump camp has decided to roll back a health-insurance mandate—meaning that birth control may no longer be covered, since employers can now stop offering it in their plans if they reject it on religious or moral grounds.
“It’s true,” offered Oliver, “the Trump administration is making it easier for employers to stop covering employees’ birth control—or, as Mike Pence undoubtedly would put it, ‘They are defending the right of future babies to continue unimpeded through the male sin stick and directly into a woman’s mother hole.’”