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Last Night on Late Night

John Oliver calls out American media for London attack coverage

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John Oliver ripped into the American news media for its coverage of Saturday night’s terror attacks in London, which left seven dead and dozens injured.

The Last Week Tonight host began Sunday’s episode by saying his thoughts went out to those affected by the incident, before calling out the U.S. press.

“As a British person living in America, I feel compelled to address a certain theme that emerged through American coverage of this tragedy,” Oliver said before playing clips of news media personnel exclaiming London was “reeling” and “under siege” in the wake of the attack, the second in the United Kingdom in less than two weeks.

“Okay, here’s the thing: For the record, in no way is Britain ‘under siege.’ Is it upset? Yes. Is it pissed off? Oh, you f—ing bet it’s pissed off. But to say it’s ‘under siege’ and that its people are ‘reeling’ is to imply that it’s somehow weak enough to be brought to its knees by three monumental a–holes,” Oliver said. “And that, as an idea, is insulting.”

As Oliver noted, British residents were so “irritated” by the coverage, they used the Twitter hashtag #ThingsThatLeaveBritainReeling to express their outrage. (Sample jokes highlighted by Oliver: “Accidental eye contact on the tube or in a lift, and when people make tea in the microwave.”)

“Honestly, it was an uplifting demonstration of quintessentially British defiance. Because the British people are never going to let terror change their way of life,” Oliver said of the trending topic, before showing an image of one man holding his beer while fleeing on Saturday night. “And if you need proof of this, just look at this footage of people being evacuated from the scene. You see that one guy there? He refused to leave his pint of beer behind! That is a one-man, walking ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster.”

Oliver closed the opening of Last Week Tonight by showing an interview with a London resident who expressed defiance in the face of the attack. “We’re not going to let these people win, and I keep saying, if me having a gin and tonic with my friends, flirting with handsome men, hanging out with brilliant women is what offends these people so much, I’m going to do it more, not less. Because that’s what makes London so great,” the man said.

“F— yeah it is! F— yes it is,” replied Oliver on Sunday. “And I hope — I sincerely hope — that that guy is out on the town tonight pounding down gin and tonics and flirting with every man he sees.” The host then raised a glass of what looked like a gin and tonic. “To you sir, I say this: cheers.”