Many political and advocacy organizations have begun to realize they have a chance to put their pitch in front of President Donald Trump by running ads in early morning programs on cable-news outlets. Starting tomorrow, John Oliver will stand among them.
Speaking during the launch of the fourth season of his HBO program, “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver said he intended to run commercials on Washington D.C. area cable systems between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. during Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” CNN’s “New Day” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that would educate Trump on facts of which Oliver believes he is not aware. The commercials, designed to look like a direct-response medical commercial touting help for people who use catheters, will instead offer remedial help on subjects like the nuclear triad and African geography.
“We all need to commit to defining the reality of facts,” said Oliver during the show.
Oliver, who in press interviews this week expressed skittishness about having the show focus overmuch on the nation’s 45th President, did just that Sunday night with a program that examined how the Commander-in-Chief gets information about the world. Oliver’s staff determined that he relies upon cable news and non-mainstream press reports from web outlets. To combat that, the staff will air the ads in hopes of bringing the President up to date on issues that might really matter.
“Trump’s reality can change with a single sentence,” noted Oliver, who spent his program’s half hour railing against a White House that he feels is making policy based on debunked and dubious information.
This isn’t the first time the “Last Week Tonight” staff has produced and run commercials to further the point of a topical segment. In 2015, after launching a damning report on World Cup governing body FIFA, Oliver and his staff purchased ad time on Trinidad’s TV6. In the minutes-long pitch, Oliver beseeches FIFA executive Jack Warner, who had previously appeared on Trinidadian TV offering to divulge scandalous details about the beleaguered sports operation, to make good on his promise.
The idea can be achieved with great economic efficiency. Most cable systems get two minutes of ad time per hour that they can sell to either local advertisers who can’t afford to purchase national ad time, or to bigger advertisers who want to place ads in specific regions to put a message in front of a very specific audience. In this instance, “Last Week Tonight” will buy commercials for a viewership of one.