- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver focused his main segment on the amount of sponsored content creeping into local news broadcasts under the guise of news.
And at the end of his segment, he showed how “easy” it is to fool a program into doing a segment on a product for money — even a fake one.
“It is far too easy to make a ridiculous product that makes outlandish claims and get it on to local TV,” he said. “And the reason I know that is, we did.”
The show’s production team set up a company called “Venus Inventions,” makers of the “Venus Veil,” described as “the world’s first sexual wellness blanket.”
They also created a website and hired an actress to ”brand-egrate the shit” out of the product into “shows it had no business being on.”
ABC4 in Utah took the bait and ran a segment on it Friday, which Oliver showed highlights from.
Oliver said it was very easy to get the segment on the air and noted that the staffer interviewing the actress promoting the product was the station’s chief medical correspondent.
“It seems striking she didn’t have any follow-ups on claims we made about the veil that you would hope a medical correspondent would immediately take issue with,” he said. This included a lot of scientific gibberish that the actress spouted, referring to it as “cutting-edge technology” developed in Germany about 80 years ago. “I would have some questions about that particular period in German history,” Oliver quipped.
KVUE in Austin also fell for the fake product, Oliver noted, showing clips from that station’s broadcast as well. He noted that the segment ran in the same hour as coverage of the ceasefire in the Middle East, a shortage of lifeguards in local public pools and an investigative story on criminal justice and bail reform. “One of these things is not like the others, and it’s definitely a Nazi-era fuck blanket,” Oliver said.
He then showed yet another broadcast that featured the fake product, Denver’s Mile High Living, which actually did a segment where the actress appeared in the studio with the product — which, of course, was just a regular blanket.
“None of this was nearly difficult enough to get on to TV, and it wasn’t even that expensive,” he said, noting the Denver show charged $2,800, Austin billed $2,650 and Utah $1,750.
“The integrity of local news is crucially important, and there is real harm in everyone if that integrity is damaged,” Oliver said.
Watch the segment below.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
Script to Scene