Pennyfarthing doth doff his cap to John Oliver, the agreeable British bloke who plies his trade on this side of the pond to our immense and perduring delight. 

Oliver’s HBO show, Last Week Tonight, expertly meshes topical comedy with must-see segments on vitally important issues. It’s like 60 Minutes with less Morley Safer and better jokes. (I know Morley Safer is no longer with us, but he’s a cultural touchstone for news nerds of a certain age, like me.)

On the May 2 edition of Last Week Tonight, Oliver presented a segment on vaccines, and he really tore into Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, the frozen TV dinner of frozen TV dinner heirs.

It went a little something like this:


CARLSON: “What about this vaccine? Why are Americans being discouraged from asking simple straightforward questions about it—questions like ‘How effective are these drugs?’ ‘Are they safe?’ … Do you need a reason to turn on the vaccine? And what happens if you do turn it down? Will you be allowed to fly on an airplane, or go to work, or enter the front doors of Madison Square Garden? … Oh, now they’re telling us the vaccine has a delayed response. Okay, delayed by how long? They don’t say. … If vaccines work, why are vaccinated people still banned from living normal lives? Honestly, what’s the answer to that? … So maybe it doesn’t work and they’re simply not telling you that. Well, you hate to think that, especially if you’ve gotten two shots. But what’s the other potential explanation?”

OLIVER: “Okay, it is genuinely weird to see someone hosting a show on a supposed news network and ending every sentence with a question mark, especially when answers to most of those questions are out there for anyone who cares to know. So, for instance, that last complaint that the CDC still recommends wearing masks indoors when around vulnerable, unvaccinated people does not mean the vaccine doesn’t work. Clinical trials found that the vaccines are spectacularly successful at preventing people from getting serious disease. As for whether they protect you from spreading the virus, the trials weren’t designed to assess that, but evidence so far indicates that they drastically reduce transmission. The reason we still see mask and distancing recommendations is that the CDC is being cautious and wants to be sure that it is not spreading bullshit around during a global pandemic like a frozen dinner duke with a TV show. Anyway, I hope that answers at least one of your gape-mouthed, bad-faith wonderings, Tucker, you scrunch-faced fear baboon.”

Thanks, John.

And to add to your trenchant analysis, I’d just like to mention that literally every one of Carlson’s questions could be satisfactorily answered in less than five minutes with a basic Google search. We’re not talking about the dark web here. Answers about the vaccines’ safety and efficacy are widely available pretty much everywhere but the Fox News studios.

The only reason for Tucker to be spreading this disinformation is that his audience likes it. So what Carlson is actually doing here is endangering people’s health in exchange for money—and doing so far more efficiently than simply selling them frozen salisbury steaks made from gonorrheal ponies. Do his family’s TV dinners come from gonorrheal ponies? And what else is in them? Is there any reason to think they’re actually food? Will my scrotum detach from my perineum if I eat this sketchy peach cobbler? Will it fall down my pant leg and through a sewer grate? 

These are ordinary and perfectly reasonable questions that the Swanson frozen dinner people haven’t even bothered to address. That’s why I’m asking them.

Something’s fishy there—unless you’re talking about Swanson frozen fish dinners, which I suspect are made of something other than fish. What, though? Soylent Green? Still more ponies? Why won’t Tucker answer any of these perfectly normal questions?

And do they even make Swanson dinners anymore? I could Google it, but I’m trying to be an impartial journalamist here. 

Tucker Carlson is basically doing all he can to kill people now—and, unfortunately, the people he’s trying to kill likely won’t see Oliver’s takedown of this dyspeptic Keebler elf. But that doesn’t mean Oliver isn’t doing us all a service.

After all, he’s giving aid and comfort to those of us in the sane community, and we need all the sanity we can get these days.

Here’s the full segment if you have the time:

Thank you, John. Sincerely. For all you do.

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