Selling snake oil as news

I long ago stopped watching TV news and talk shows, either on local stations or on the national networks. They never said anything that I did not hear about elsewhere and instead spent a lot of time on mindless blather that was truly irritating. And of course there were the numerous commercial breaks.

But sometimes you cannot avoid them, such as when the TV is on in a doctor’s waiting room or in the boarding areas for flights and then you would often see segments where the host would interview people who were talking about some new product that supposedly has beneficial effects on health.

On his show Last Week Tonight on Sunday, John Oliver dissected such segments, showing how often they were what are called ‘sponsored content’, i.e. essentially advertisements paid for by the manufacturer of the product that the ‘news’ shows presented without clearly disclosing this key fact.

Towards the end of the segment, Oliver’s team pulls off one of the pranks they are famous for and that is worth watching. They clearly plan these shows well in advance of airing.


  1. garnetstar says

    Don’t you just DESPISE places where the TV is left on? And usually loudly. I simply cannot stand the meaningless bombardment of drivel, so I have top-rated ear plugs always on me that I always employ. Then I have to try to sit somewhere not in the line of sight of the screen.

    And, I don’t know the point: I’ve never seen anyone watching the TV or listening to it. No one wants it.

  2. Ridana says

    I loved Joan from NY’s testimony: “You know I don’t like talking about my puuh…ersonal life…” She was great. If this were real, she’d have sold me. lol It’s weird though, I didn’t see anything on the website to indicate it’s not real, other than there being no place to order. I was expecting them to have an “order now” page where they exposed the news programs selling them out, maybe with phone numbers of people to rage at.

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