John Oliver disses ‘business daddy’ AT&T for its ties to right-wing news network OAN

John Oliver is not shy about taking shots at AT&T, the company the “Last Week Tonight” host mockingly calls his “business daddy” for its ownership of HBO through its WarnerMedia subsidiary. 

Last month, he blasted AT&T for supporting the restrictive Texas abortion bill through its political action committee. On Sunday’s show, he was back on the attack, biting the corporate parent’s hand for helping to create and fund the One America News Network, the right-wing news channel that makes Fox News look like MSNBC. Reuters published a report last week revealing AT&T executives’ involvement with OAN’s launch, and that the world’s largest communications company provides OAN’s main source of revenue. 

“Turns out, AT&T has been up to some s—,” Oliver said. “And it is worth noting, AT&T is still technically our ‘Business Daddy,’ making OAN our ‘Business Stepsibling,’ and not in a hot way.” 

OAN uses the platform AT&T provides to air stuff like a commentator suggesting people who ran voting machines in the 2020 election and supposedly stole the election for Joe Biden should be executed for treason, a real clip Oliver played. 

“Are you really saying those who ran the voting machines could be traitors?” Oliver said. “You mean Dolores? Dolores, who lives down the street? Who volunteered to spend 12 hours or her, let’s face it, dwindling ‘NCIS’-watching time, doling out participation stickers to voters? All right, death to Dolores, I guess. Sorry, Lolo, but decaf Pitbull here heard a rumor from a pillow salesman that you deserve the chair.”

Oliver shared an email that “Last Week Tonight” got from AT&T’s communications department in response to an inquiry about the company’s ties to OAN, which said that “no AT&T senior executive” suggested to OAN founder Bruce Herring that he start a conservative news network. That is also what Herring has testified, according to court documents. Oliver called “the carve-out of ‘senior’ there…pretty striking.” He also noted that AT&T claims it carries OAN because OAN sued them into doing so. “OK,” Oliver sarcastically said. “I guess the largest telecom company in the world got rolled in a lawsuit by a ragtag band of fascists. It happens.”

AT&T also told Oliver that “AT&T is committed to providing editorial independence for every WarnerMedia show — including this one,” as in “Last Week Tonight.” 

So Oliver used that editorial freedom to offer some “constructive feedback” to AT&T. 

First, he mocked AT&T’s new marketing slogan “More for your thing. That’s our thing,” which Oliver called “complete gibberish” that “sounds like Yoda pitching a penis enlargement device.”

He pitched some alternative slogans:  “All the business savvy of Quibi without the courtesy of committing corporate suicide,” and “If you run a cable out the back of your headquarters and plug it into T-Mobile’s network while they aren’t looking, that’s legal, right? Asking for a friend.”

Oliver closed by directly addressing AT&T, and he does not have a good personal relationship with his “business daddy,” which soon won’t be his parent any more thanks to the pending merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery. (The deal is expected to close next year.) 

“While we are still technically related, let me say this: you’re a terrible company,” Oliver said. “You do bad things and you make the world worse. Please don’t bother keeping in touch once the merger is complete. Although that really shouldn’t be a problem for you. You’re AT&T. It isn’t like your messages go through anyway.”

The main story from Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight,” on misinformation, is available to watch on YouTube

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