John Oliver on Jay Leno's call for civility: Remember Monica Lewinsky?

Last week former late night talk show host Jay Leno called for “a bit more civility” in public discourse and now he must be punished. A current late night talk show host, John Oliver, pounced. He is eager to remind his viewers about how late-night show hosts treated Monica Lewinsky back in the day.


Last week, Leno stopped by NBC’s Today show and said he did not miss hosting a late-night show because “everything now is, if people don’t like your politics… everyone has to know your politics…But when people see you are one-sided, it just makes it tough.”

“I’d just like to see a bit of civility come back to it, you know?” Leno added.

Leno’s right about that. My husband and I were regular late-night talk show viewers when there was some entertainment value to the shows but that was a long time ago. Why would any conservative-leaning voter watch the current field of shows? None of them talk as though they have any inkling about life outside of a very liberal bubble. It seems as though every monologue is politically based and the only point of view is from the left. How many times can a conservative sit and listen to being the butt of every joke? The jokes typically aren’t good-natured, either. They’re mean-spirited, often sneering.

John Oliver punched back during his weekly Sunday night show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and was determined to call Leno a hypocrite. He had to reach back to the late 1990s and the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky sex scandal to do it. Oliver presented examples of Leno’s jokes at the expense of Lewinsky and ended it with his own title for a Dr. Seuss type of book.


Oliver treated viewers to some from the Tonight show library.

-Leno joking it was so humid outside people’s clothes were “stickier than Monica Lewinsky”

-Leno snickering over a headline reading “Lewinsky Gets Back On Her Feet.”

-Leno doing a bit with a fake Dr. Seuss-ian book about Lewinsky titled The Slut in the Hat.

“And, if that’s what he means by civility, may I offer my new book: Oh the Places You Can Go Fuck Yourself, Jay Leno! Oliver snarked.

Looking at that short list of so-called insulting jokes, I’d say they look almost quaint compared to what passes as humor today. Leno also appeared on The View, where he said he likes to “denigrate and degrade” people in both parties. Naturally, the former GOP consultant Ana Navarro piped up and said it’s only members of one party that degrade themselves. Gosh, which party could she mean? With that remark, she presented a perfect example of the one-sidedness of today’s comedy. All irony is dead in 2019. President Trump lives rent-free in the heads of all venues of entertainment.

Leno’s broader point is a legitimate one. He says that when everyone knows everyone’s politics, entertainment becomes one-sided and predictable. I think it shows a lack of creativity and originality for every late-night host to be making the same jokes about President Trump and Republicans in general.


Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton were savaged in the press and on the radio during that scandal. Both sides of the aisle went after them but for different reasons. The left smeared Lewinsky because her sexual relationship with Clinton threatened his presidency once it was exposed. The right went after Clinton for his behavior. The real hypocrisy was the left’s treatment toward a young woman being taken advantage of by the most powerful man in the world. This pre-dates the current cries from first, second, and third-wave feminists to believe all women, period. Lewinsky wasn’t so innocent as not to know what she was doing but the left was more concerned about saving Clinton’s presidency than they were about Lewinsky. She was slut-shamed like all of Clinton’s conquests.

To circle back to John Oliver, don’t think that all public shaming is bad as far as he’s concerned. It’s perfectly fine if it involves a conservative-leaning personality, especially if that personality is on Fox News Channel. You know, like Tucker Carlson. Oliver thinks the online mob coming after Carlson is merited because he’s a public figure. What he didn’t say is it’s merited because Carlson is not liberal and has refused, at least so far, to back down and apologize for remarks made to a shock-jock radio show host a decade or more ago.


“I would argue that Tucker is actually a good example of an internet pile-on being merited,” Oliver argued. “He’s a public figure, he made his comments publicly, they are appalling and he’s standing by them.”

The liberal mob always demands an apology for any manner of speech that doesn’t fit into current groupthink. Calls for civility and standing up for yourself must be squashed and mocked. This is who they are.

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