Only John Oliver Could Make Net Neutrality So Sexy That TMZ Wanted To Cover It
from the wait,-what? dept
Oliver himself has mostly stayed quiet since then (the show is only broadcast once a week, on Sunday nights), but on his podcast, The Bugle, (which too few people seem to have discovered despite it's incredible level of awesomeness for many years), he addressed the issue... and how "odd" the reaction has been, in discussion with his co-host Andy Zaltzman:
I've had a slightly... weird few days to be honest, after finding myself at the center of a minor technological tornado. We did a piece, on Sunday's show, about net neutrality; an issue that is, quite simply, the single most important issue that is too boring to give a shit about. We ended the segment by reminding everyone that the FCC was now accepting comments, and pointing out an email address, at which those comments would presumably be welcomed. At which point, all hell appeared to break loose. The comments page at the FCC soon went down, and they sent out a Tweet saying "we've been experiencing technical difficulties with our comment system due to heavy traffic. We're working to resolve these issues quickly." And they seemed to experience technical issues for the next few days, which became a bit of a story in and of itself, giving more attention to the issue, driving more people to the comments pages, making them crash again.From there, they go onto a discussion about a bee and Andy's miso soup. So that's about the extent of it. Neither net neutrality, nor the FCC are mentioned again. But, still, just the idea that "net neutrality" has become an issue even barely on TMZ's radar, even if Oliver is correct and it does not appear they posted anything about his "interview," is a good sign. (Update: As noted in the comments, it appears that TMZ did put the video on their website -- I've embedded it below, though it mostly talks about his status as a non-American, rather than net neutrality). As Oliver said in his original report, the best way to do something evil, politically, is to make it sound mind-numbingly boring. And net neutrality has been in that category for a long, long time.
Now, my role in this is not entirely clear. But, it definitely led to one of the strangest encounters of my life. Yesterday morning, I was walking to the CBS studios to do an interview on CBS This Morning, just to generally promote the show. As I walked up the road, I saw a TMZ reporter with a camera in his hand and I thought: "Ooh! That's exciting. Someone like LL Cool J must be on the show. I wonder if I'll get to meet him."
Then, the TMZ reporter started walking towards me, and I thought: "Oh, he must want to know what door LL Cool J is likely to come out of." And then he lifted up his camera and pointed it at me, and I thought: "Oh shit!" Because, I've never been interviewed by TMZ before, Andy. That was a streak I was very happy with. I should, frankly, not be pinging anywhere near their radar. But I'm afraid that streak has now emphatically come to an end.
The guy said to me: "You crashed the FCC website. Can you tell us quickly what net neutrality is all about?" To which I basically said: "No, I can't tell you that that quickly. It's a lot more complicated than we have time for here at the side of the road." To which he said: "Well, can you tell me what the biggest problem facing America right now is?" To which, I replied: "To be honest, you're pretty much embodying it at the moment."
Now, I'm not proud of that, Andy. He was just doing his job. Although, lots of people have used that as a defense in the past for doing some pretty appalling things -- so I'm not quite sure that's an excuse enough. And, I certainly think it was an unusable enough answer, that it is unlikely to appear on TMZ. Meaning, technically, my streak continues, Andy!