Carve out 20 minutes of your day ahead of the presidential debates tonight to watch John Oliver give a detailed breakdown of the scandals surrounding US presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
There’s a tendency in the political media to create false balance, especially during a presidential election. This year, it has manifested itself in a need to give equal scrutiny to Clinton’s and Trump’s respective scandals, lest the press appear biased toward Clinton.
But Oliver has a problem with that. On his HBO show Last Week Tonight, the British comedian first walked his audience through Clinton’s two biggest scandals: her use of a private email server, and allegations of “pay for play” against the Clinton Foundation.
“They both look bad, but the harder you look, the less you actually find,” Oliver said.
After an investigation, the FBI concluded that Clinton was “extremely careless” handling classified information on her private email server, but broke no laws in doing so. Likewise, Oliver called the Clinton Foundation’s taking of donations from individuals and governments with business before the US state department “annoyingly handled,” but noted that that, too, broke no laws, and Clinton herself was not involved in those decisions.
And then he turned to Trump. “You can be irritated by some of Hillary’s [scandals], that is understandable,” Oliver said, “but you should then be fucking outraged by Trump’s.”
Among the Trump scandals that Oliver examined were: Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns; his business dealings in the US and abroad; the fact that he doesn’t seem to know what a blind trust is; and reports that the Trump Foundation used charitable donations to settle lawsuits and buy personal items (including a gigantic portrait of Trump himself).
On the eve of the first presidential debate between Clinton and Trump, Oliver’s rant is all the more compelling. In the hours and days following tonight’s debate, political pundits will likely try to find equal fault in both candidates in order to turn the campaign into a horse race. But, as Oliver, reminds us: All scandals, flubs, and faux pas are not created equal.