News & Politics

John Oliver's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Late-night comedian John Oliver sure is having an interesting week.

It started with him blasting the FCC on his HBO show on Sunday, rallying viewers to flood the FCC with calls and comments defending net neutrality. Oliver is apparently a huge fan of the Obama-era regulatory structure that calls for Internet service providers to be treated like public utilities. The Republican chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, wants to throw it out.(Watch Pai explain why on Reason TV here.)

During the segment, Oliver beckoned his audience to take action and compared Pai to a serial killer: “When the Code of Federal Regulations looks out its window at night, there’s just Ajit Pai, standing silently, holding his weed whacker, waiting for his chance,” he said.

In related news, professional net-neutrality activists invaded Pai’s neighborhood on Sunday to distribute door hangers resembling “wanted posters” to his neighbors. The flyers featured a black-and-white photo of Pai with the words “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN?” written above the photo. Pai talked about the stunt on Matt Lewis’ radio show earlier this week, dismissing the activists as “sort of annoying” while noting that they did “scare his children a little bit.”

“Sadly, it seems once more we the people must take the matter into our own hands,” Oliver said on his show Sunday. “Because the FCC are again going to invite public comment on their website — and conveniently for them, the process is actually a lot more complicated this time than it was three years ago.”

After describing the complicated process people now have to go through to comment on the FCC site, Oliver told his viewers that his show had created the URL “gofccyourself.com,” which could take them more directly to the page to leave a comment.

“Do not tell me you do not have time to do this,” Oliver said. “If the internet is evidence of anything else, it’s evidence that we all have too much time on our hands.”

Not long after the segment aired, the FCC’s website crashed, prompting many in the media to approvingly credit Oliver’s viewers for crashing the site.

But it turned out that the website crash had nothing to do with comments.  According to a statement posted on the FCC’s website, it was a deliberate Denial of Service attack.

 Beginning on Sunday night at midnight, our analysis reveals that the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDos). These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC’s comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host. These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC. While the comment system remained up and running the entire time, these DDoS events tied up the servers and prevented them from responding to people attempting to submit comments. We have worked with our commercial partners to address this situation and will continue to monitor developments going forward.

On Tuesday, the Washington Free Beacon reviewed the Oliver-inspired FCC comments and found that they were riddled with bots leaving fake messages and liberals making racist comments and threatening violence against Pai.

…an analysis of comments to Pai’s Restoring Internet Freedom filing, which Oliver has dubbed “Go FCC yourself,” shows thousands of comments using fake names and bots posing as “Jesus Christ,” “Michael Jackson,” “Homer Simpson,” and “Melania Trump.”

For instance, as of Tuesday evening, there were 1,761 comments filed under the name “John Oliver,” 998 separate comments using the name “Yoni Schwartz,” and 611 comments filed using “1” as the name.

Over 500 were submitted using Chairman Pai’s name, as well as 189 from “Donald Trump” and 8 from “Obama.”

Eleven submissions used some version of the word “f–k.”

Pai also received death threats in several submissions. One commenter said, “[F]—k you Ajit Pai for what you’re are trying to do and I hope you die a horrible painful death with no remembrance to your name you cocksucka [sic].”

Another said failure to keep net neutrality would “cause me to pray for the slow and painful death of Chairman Ajit Pai and every living member of his family, direct or indirect.”

“Save internet and fuck this Ajit guy,” said another. “He’s from India, deport that asshole. We will take care of him when he’s back.”

Other comments used racial attacks against Pai, the son of Indian immigrants.

“Can you guys stop being complete greedy little s–ts and work for the American people and not for your wallets,” said one commenter using the name ” Andromeda Titan.” “Also, f–k you Ajit Pai (a disgrace to all Indians). And f–k Trump too.”

Another commenter said, “Ajit Pai looks and sounds like an Indian fraternity brother who exclusively f–ks underage women.”

Wow, John Oliver’s fans are a charming bunch, aren’t they?

The most awkward moment for the left-wing comedian came on Wednesday when an expose in the NY Observer revealed that the he had used his wealth and connections to dodge New York property taxes on his multimillion dollar penthouse. It wouldn’t be so bad if Oliver wasn’t always presenting himself as a champion of the little guy and critic of the rich and powerful.

For years, Oliver has criticized the estate tax, which defenders, in a smart linguistic move dreamed up by Frank Luntz, long ago labeled the “death tax”; and the tax code’s raft of loopholes that benefit special interests he identified as oil companies and hedge fund managers. Oliver even briefly established the bogus Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption to draw attention to tax-exempt status granted to churches and charities.

Back in July 2014, in an episode in which he lamented the Wealth Gap in America” (which has resulted in the richest one percent of Americans controlling 20 percent of annual income), Oliver said, “At this point the rich are just running up the score…What sets America apart is that we are actively introducing policies that disproportionately benefit the wealthy,” such as tax cuts and loopholes like trusts.

So it’s a little surprising to discover that just months before, Oliver had a tax attorney set up two revocable trusts, one for him and one for his wife, to hide the couple’s purchase of a $9.5 million Manhattan penthouse. Then he used a tax loophole created by Donald Trump himself back in the 1970s, when the current president was merely a prominent New York real estate developer and aspiring celebrity author.

I can’t wait to find out what Thursday, Friday, and Saturday have in store for Oliver.