John Oliver Rages at Tucker Carlson Over Dr. Seuss
The “Last Week Tonight” host knows why the right-wing media is obsessing over Dr. Seuss right now.
On Sunday night, following an explosive episode of the docuseries Allen v. Farrow, John Oliver returned to his HBO perch for another edition of Last Week Tonight. And the comic began the program with the congressional testimony of FBI Director Christopher Wray, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the attack of the Capitol on Jan. 6 was carried out by right-wing militia groups and white supremacists, and that they “have not to date seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the sixth.”
“Now, that testimony was pretty newsworthy. But while some networks took the hearings live, Fox barely covered it. In fact, across conservative media you would hardly know the hearing had happened, because they were too busy with this,” argued Oliver.
The political satirist then threw to a montage of Fox News hosts complaining about six Dr. Seuss books going out of print, with their army of pundits blaming a woke “mob” for the act. Right-wing radio host Glenn Beck even cited it as evidence of “fascism.”
But the odd thing about the whole made-up “controversy” is that no left-wing political groups called for these books to stop being printed—it was a decision made by Dr. Seuss’ company.
“The books weren’t banned. Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to stop printing six of them, and a company deciding which of its own books it will or won’t print is an example of free enterprise, not fascism,” argued Oliver, adding, “And given how strongly all those commentators were defending those books, it is worth knowing what exactly they are defending.”
Oliver then observed some of the incredibly racist caricatures in the Dr. Seuss books that were no longer going to print.
“The images in question include this old-timey caricature of a ‘a Chinese man who eats with sticks,’ actually toned down from the original version where he was literally yellow and called this [‘a Chinaman’], and there’s also drawings that resemble monkeys representing people from Africa,” said Oliver. “And are these really things that we want to fight for kids to see? To be honest, I’m squeamish about showing you to them right now.”
The obvious racist imagery might explain why Fox News, for the most, withheld the offending racial caricatures from their viewers, instead putting forward arguments like this gem from Tucker Carlson: “What they’re really trying to eliminate is a very specific kind of mid-century American culture. A culture that championed meritocracy and colorblindness.”
“OK, first: shut the fuck up, Tucker, you fearmongering lacrosse injury,” exclaimed Oliver. “And second, it’s a little weird to claim that mid-century American culture championed colorblindness when signs from the times explicitly demanded the opposite,” offered Oliver, before throwing to a photo of a Black man sipping out of a water fountain with the sign “COLORED” over it.
Of course, all this Dr. Seuss talk was a convenient distraction from other issues—like the Wray testimony that Fox News refused to so much as carry because it undermined their rhetoric surrounding Jan. 6, or the $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill that Democrats passed with no Republican support (Republicans fought to provide families with far less financial support).
“It’s not hard to see why Tucker would be so anxious to talk about Dr. Seuss this week, because if he talked about Christopher Wray’s testimony about white supremacists participating in the attack on the Capitol, it would have contradicted what he’s been telling his viewers for weeks now, like, ‘There is no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6. That’s a lie,’” explained Oliver. “So instead, Tucker and conservative media fell back on their classic playbook of distracting from important issues with bullshit culture wars. It’s incredibly lazy and depressingly effective.”