Why John Oliver is only funny to a point: How taking down big pharma without mentioning vaccines shows how the acceptable parameters of satire are maintained.

Why John Oliver is only funny to a point: How taking down big pharma without mentioning vaccines shows how the acceptable parameters of satire are maintained.

By E.F Nicholson

Broadly speaking, I like John Oliver’s new show “Last week with John Oliver” on HBO. He has come from Comedy Central’s Daily Show to create a show that’s punchy, funny, and, I think, quite relevant. Since its beginning, the show has tackled head-on some very key issues that need to be discussed. From drones, predatory leading, private prisons, inequality, and many others, as far as political comedy goes it’s as good as you will get on mainstream TV. So most of the time I watch his stuff and generally like how he comes at things. Recently John Oliver did a scathing take on the “Big Pharma” and their billion-dollar criminal practices. His show’s 17-minute smack-down on Big Pharma humorously revealed its corrupt and fraudulent practices. He does a good job of highlighting how greedy, sociopathic and criminal many of these companies are in the lengths they are willing to take to make that extra buck. All good and all information the public should be informed about. You can watch it here.

What I found interesting (and yet unsurprising) in this critique is how he left out any mention of these same companies he is taking a comedic shit on being the ones producing the “vaccines” that are currently also in the news. It seems with progressive mainstream media there are very clear lines of what are “credible” targets for satire and critique and what are not. For mainstream-ish comedians like John Oliver, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert to openly question “vaccines” is career suicide, akin to saying 9/11 was an inside job, or maybe that the queen is, in fact, a lizard. It was interesting to see how Russell Brand was deliberately shoe-horned into responding to one line in his book while on BBC News Night regarding the need to not trust our government’s ideas as to how the acts of 9/11 came about. Brand seemed to be aware of the “set-up” in place, and skilfully deflected it and directed the interview toward more relevant points. Yet I have no doubt that if Brand had come out and said, “Yes, I think 9/11 was inside job,” it would have been the last time he ever appeared on the BBC, Guardian or any other mainstream outlet (which I personally think was the whole point of trying to force him into some answers along those lines). Not that I think 9/11 was or wasn’t an inside job; I don’t have any personal opinions on it. What is interesting is how what’s “credible” gets defined and policed within progressive media.

medical cupcakesWith this reported outbreak of measles the question of whether the anti-vaccine people are bat-shit crazy has resurfaced as a credible source of outrage and scorn in liberal progressive media outlets. Supposedly thanks to the likes of playmate Jenny McCarthy and other Republican fruit-loops, all of society could be inflicted with Dickensian types of diseases and viruses. Progressive outlets like the Guardian, Salon, mother jones, ect., all condemn the supposedly unscientific and non-academic groundlessness of the anti-vaccine crowd. “We may be progressive but we are not idiots,” they cry out, so eager to assure the world of the credible credentials of sane liberal voices.

I did an article a while back on the issue of vaccines and autism that you can read here. My conclusion was simple: I don’t know if vaccines cause autism. Based solely on orthodox medical opinion, it appears they don’t. Yet let’s not forget for about 80 years orthodox medical opinion told us smoking wasn’t bad for our health. My article was more about the danger of making people’s health and well-being connected to global corporate profits. When profit drives an industry such as healthcare, one can only assume making profit will always trump what’s best for people’s health. Given that companies such as British pharmaceutical giant GSK are willing to suppress data such as this:

Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry (EHPP) has published an excerpt from a previously sealed product liability report against Glaxo SmithKline (GSK). The medical expert report documents how the company systematically hid and manipulated data concerning Paxil-induced suicidality in depressed adults. The number of suicide attempts on the antidepressant Paxil was under-reported and the number of suicide attempts on placebo was inflated.

big pharmajust to make more profits, tells us these are not companies to be trusted. Actually, in 2012, for the first time, Big Pharma overtook Banking and Defence as the most fined and corrupt industry. Well done, guys, as they are hard industries to beat. So as John Oliver rightfully lambastes and highlights just how shameless and greedy these companies are, is it really a big step to say the same companies that make money from an anti-depressant through suppressing studies, bribing and criminal conduct, for some bizarre reason should be given an unquestioned gold pass when it comes to the vaccines they sell alongside these other dubious products? Again I don’t know if vaccines are or are not good for people’s health. Personally, my kids are vaccinated. Yet what I do know is the companies that produce them have proven track records of lying and covering up. Then government authorities that are meant to regulate them are toothless, bought through revolving doors of government and corporate synergy. Yet there was no way John Oliver was going to add the “vaccine” question to the satirical scrutiny of their legitimacy. Or even more radically, questioning the very capitalistic model that drives vaccine production first place. I am sure no one told him not to, it’s just journalists, producers and editors all intuitively know what is within the lines of credible satire and satire that will allow them to continue to make more satire.

Maybe it’s not a bad thing; one could argue it’s better than nothing. Yet the journalist Gary Webb, once he was banished from “credible journalism” for reporting the truth, said something along the lines of, “You don’t know you’re on a lead until you pull up against it.” As funny as John Oliver is, it appears he is no exception.



9 thoughts on “Why John Oliver is only funny to a point: How taking down big pharma without mentioning vaccines shows how the acceptable parameters of satire are maintained.

  1. It’s fine how far up Liberal ass holes you are personally dear content creator; however, you CAN NOT propagate your own personal opinions as facts and evidence. On the political spectrum, I find myself somewhere in the middle, mostly leaning towards Liberal values and perspectives, save for the few who seem to promote unusually misinformed positions and opinions. However, I find this ironic that a party who holds so strongly to logical ideologies and insights grasps onto conspiracy theories of autism causing vaccines and poisons GMO’s, void of any scientific evidence and so on who obviously have no idea WHAT THE FUCK THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT. It’s like you idiots found out early on in the argument that you were scientifically proven wrong, but held on to your opinions to simply argue and try not to look stupid and uninformed in the conversation. Whether you like it or not, you CAN NOT argue with science. The increased number of preventable diseases in North America in past years is SOLELY due to the increased number of parents unwilling to vaccinate their children, caused by pictures made by their ill-informed friends on social media, that of which have been self-certified with their own WebMD degrees. As you are someone who has obviously never worked in the academic or collegial sector, I am not surprised that you are unaware of the safeguards in place to ensure PhD candidates and practitioners that are employed by universities can conduct their research and are, for the most part, unaffected by political and economic influence. There have been numerous studies conducted on links between vaccines and autism, all of which have shown ZERO correlation or causation. It is EXTREMELY disingenuous that you: “don’t know”, if vaccines cause autism because, whether you like it or not, there is absolutely no evidence to show that they do. Don’t we have enough problems with our predominately conservative government? Why must we be separated on such an unnecessary issue, where we could easily all be positioned towards the corruption that IS happening in front of our own faces. This should be a NON issue. Those with liberal values MUST understand the damage that is being done by not properly educated yourselves by the harm you are doing not only to your children, but your friends children and your children’s children by not vaccinating. I urge you as one who as worked in collegial settings, who has longed to be liberal, but who has withstood due to misinformed opinions to PLEASE do your research before you open your mouth. Read ONE academic journal, and see what good it can produce when we spread words of truth, opposed to one’s of misinformation and propagation. You owe it to your children, and those around you who care about a sustainable future, and as future free of preventable diseases.


    • Dear John, For someone who seems to pride himself of how smart he is an others like myself are not and assuming you worked in some academic environment as badge of your intellectual creditability, you have missed the whole point of this article and previous article in where I discussed the issue of vaccine and autism in relationship to capitalism and the “for profit” model. Or did you even read both articles? Or you just saw and title and got all huffy and indignant? The long winded and tedious response that highlights how lonely it must being in so smart when surround by such morons really makes me feel for you. You state emphatically…

      “As you are someone who has obviously never worked in the academic or collegial sector (obviously you are I assume as you seem to inadvertently like to brag about it) , I am not surprised that you are unaware of the safeguards in place to ensure PhD candidates and practitioners that are employed by universities can conduct their research and are, for the most part, unaffected by political and economic influence”.

      Seriously? To make comment like your this head must be so far up your arse and you must be so much denial regarding the corruption of the science you seem so enamoured by, its truly staggering.And you call me disengenous? Take this insight by Peter Rost, former vice president of Pfizer.

      “Universities, health organizations, everybody that I have encountered …are out there …. begging for money. (Big Pharma corporations) use that money to basically buy influence … (Big Pharma provides) grants for various kinds of research … make sure they (scientific researchers) became beholden … Everyone obviously knows this is how things work.”
      “They (scientific researchers) are not going to continue to get money unless they’re saying what you (i.e. Big Pharma) want them to say. They know it, you know it, and it’s only maybe the public that doesn’t know it.”

      Ok what about Dr. Richard Horton who is the current editor-in-chief of the British Lancet journal, which is respected as one of the best peer-reviewed medical journals in the world. Is he credible enough for you? You compelled me to

      “Read ONE academic journal, and see what good it can produce when we spread words of truth”

      well here is some truth for you from editor and cheief of a “academic journal”

      “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

      What about Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)

      “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines … I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

      So in fact you can argue with science, when the science is bought and corrupted, yeah you should argue with science. So with all that mind its well within reason to be wary of same companies who have conduct massive amounts of fraud, lies and criminal behaviour to be that when producing vaccine or antidepressant it may not be peoples best interest they have mind. Which was the original conclusion of the first article. When capitalism turns health care into a product and profit becomes more important that people, this type of corruption is bound to happen. To not see this obvious fact makes me wonder what planet you are on. It also would be wise to lose the haughty and arrogant tone that makes you sound so pompous and stupid.


    • To further my response “Whether you like it or not, you CAN NOT argue with science”

      Yet within science there are diverging opinions and understandings about why some things are the way they are and the way they are not. In the science community there is not 100% uniformity of opinion, as even science is open to interpretation and as the esteem authors of academic journals point out ,open to corruption and compromise. Also science is still created and viewed through the lens of human perception and experience which will always one way or the other have it bias and subjective influences.

      who obviously have no idea WHAT THE FUCK THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT”

      Its ironic that he who writes his opinions with such certitude and blind conviction that it is he who has no idea WHAT THE FUCK THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT. In addition to your wanton denial of how much of science has been corrupted ,you are also arguing a point that the article doesn’t even address. This article was about how satire within the mainstream media even has boundaries. Independent of what you believe, you see how John Oliver can lampoon them about the corrupt and fraudulent practices but in no way links the potential of that corruption impacting vaccines.

      I would genuinely like to ask you a question John.

      Why in anyway what’s so ever should we trust an industry that bought science, bribed, cheated and lied there way into making billions of dollar in profits? An industry that beat defence and banking as 2012 most fraudulently and fined industry?( which is saying something.) All these same companies produce vaccines and its not huge leap of logic to say the practices of “profits at any cost” wouldn’t be applied with vaccines if it done so with anti-depressants? Please answer that question. As the corruption maybe not even be related to vaccine causing autism, it could anything to them doing nothing, to missing ingredients, to cut corners, or many number of things, all for that almighty dollar. Honestly the way you speak is worrying for my children and their children’s children, that people like you at large the world who are so enthralled and subservient to the status quo that you will argue with rigour and moral superiority a position that is naive, ill informed and essential stupid.


    • Case in point.This article doesnt show vaccine cause autism, rather it just show how corrupt and criminal these companies are. Again knowing this to be case why would you trust them?

      The scientists claim Merck defrauded the U.S. government by causing it to purchase an estimated four million doses of mislabeled and misbranded MMR vaccine per year for at least a decade, and helped ignite two recent mumps outbreaks that the allegedly ineffective vaccine was intended to prevent in the first place.

      “As the single largest purchaser of childhood vaccines (accounting for more than 50 percent of all vaccine purchasers), the United States is by far the largest financial victim of Merck’s fraud.



  2. I’m still learning from you, ass I’m making my wway to the top as well.
    Iabsolutely enjoy reading all that is posted on your website.Keep the stories coming.
    I loved it!


  3. I know it has been years since someone has commented on this, but I felt I had to. I just saw John Oliver once again (last episode of Last Week Tonight, 6-25-17) assassinate the anti-vax position, and have been fairly down in the dumps that a comedian who I considered quite erudite and on-point would fail so spectacularly to even suspect corruption in the vaccine industry. This post of yours from two years ago was such a welcome sight. Oliver still to this day gives a golden pass, as you put it, to the vaccine industry even when he knows full well the companies that produce these vaccines are guilty not only of massive fraud, but of being the most fined industry in the world of lying and deceit for several years. I loved how you pointed out that the medical and scientific community ‘concluded’ cigarettes were not harmful for over 80 years. I use in my health presentations old ads from the tobacco industry quoting medical doctors and ‘scientific studies’ that ‘prove’ smoking is not harmful. You mention many authorities who have experienced first hand how science is corrupted to serve corporate interests, and observe several techniques. I would suggest that you research ‘p-hacking’ as a method often used in the vaccine industry to corrupt their studies. However, your main point, that there are ‘acceptable parameters of satire’ should be a conversation we all should have. Corporate interests have clearly influenced even what is acceptable comedy, and this should be a topic of interest, because comedy is often viewed as our last defense against the powers that be. Satire has been nearly impossible for the Chinese to control, and the Russians, but here in America we are seeing the first signs of Total Media Control. It is not happening with jack-booted thugs and poisoning of journalists. It is by setting an iron-fisted financial model: Make a comment about something I don’t approve of, and your money is gone. And if this has reached to the level of even satirical comedy, we all should be very very concerned. As a bit of a side point: I did a google search of “John Oliver vaccines reaction’ and had to scroll down 3 pages before I found One post (yours here) that was remotely negative, or that wasn’t an internet news site with embedded video. Online media is now totally dominated by any multi billion dollar industry that chooses to do so (though, as another point for you to consider, when corrected for inflation, the vaccine industry over the last 50 years has brought in over 2 trillion dollars gross sales, and easily qualifies as one of, if not the very oldest, multi billion dollar industry in the world to consistently engage in media and public institution control (like the CDC and British equivalent) on a global scale).

    Your article was very, very welcome. Thank you for writing it. And hey, thank you for the thorough response to the uninformed person who attempted to use his opinion only (oh.. and his capital letters…) to excoriate you on this issue. After all these years, it is finally clear the true power of the internet is to let the asshole in all of us shine through. You handled deftly and with grace.



    • Thanks for the positive feedback Charles 🙂 Yes sadly John Oliver’s latest on vaccines seems to prove the point of the original article. It’s seemed impossible that he was going in anyway to link his show on “corrupt big pharma” and vaccines. It was hard to watch, as in isolation he had some valid points but within a wider context it’s just an further amplification of the narrative of “people who have concerns about vaccines stupid and dangerous morons” Is it any wonder that those on the right think progressive liberal are smug assholes?


  4. Loved this article and appreciate the above comment discussing the 2017 John Oliver episode promoting vaccines and denouncing legitimate arguments against them.

    Having personally invested over a year now of in depth analysis on the topic of vaccines, I’ve concluded that autism is minute in comparison to a multitude of chronic debilitating conditions causally linked to routine childhood vaccines. Everything from auto immune diseases, asthma, allergies, numerous neurological disorders including epileptic conditions, ADHD, and juvenile diabetes along with SIDS and pediatric cancer rates have all been significantly linked to multiple vaccines. And are the reason American children are amongst some of the sickest children in the developing world.

    But pharmaceutical industry spends billions lobbying Congress to mandate vaccines, and Influence policies. They dominate media advertising and therefore control television corporate conglomerates and censor the truth. They fund academia, hospitals, medical authorities and dictate medical literature, consensus and scientific research.
    The evidence assocating vaccines amf their inflammatory brain damage and toxins inhibiting typical neurological development, is beyond apparent and available. However, the multitude of studies demonstrating vaccine damage and adverse effects is suppressed by the media, medical authorities, and scientific literature to such an extent that the entire premise of the scientific method is denounced. Nothing is science is ever proven. Or debunked indefinitely. Vaccines causal link to autism Had been explored by studying one vaccine,MMR anf one ingredient, thimersol. To assume that because this hypothesis was unsupported by analyzing these two variables to deny any link between any of the 14 diseases in 70 childhood vaccines, or any of the dozens of toxins and ingredients in thrm is beyond asinine and ridiculous. And unethical. No individual vaccine ingredients have ever been tested for toxicity mutagenicity synergetic effects, carcinogenity or tumoregenic abilities. No double blind inert placebo control group experimental studies have EVEr been conducted for any vaccine for safety or efficacy. And no legitmate scientific testing has ever been done in truly testing for autism and the role vaccines play. Yet the masses are convinced the science is settled.
    Yet no scientist with any integrity should accept the pseudoscience claimed to support vaccines.

    Anf the fact that aby discussion of improvements on vaccines is so censored and attacked by the media or authorities should make any critical mind wonder why in the world legitimate skepticism is so taboo and subject to immediate ridicule, if there’s nothing to hide and. Vaccines are as safe as they claim…


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