Former CIA systems administrator and whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, is one of the most wanted men by the United States government; all interactions he has are potentially dangerous. Comedy show Last Week Tonight was lucky enough to conduct an interview.
The week of March 29, John Oliver’s show took a break for reasons unknown until he sprang the surprise Snowden interview on audiences on April 5 during a piece about the Patriot Act and government surveillance.
His segment not only expressed concern with government overreach, but with the ignorance of many Americans to the issues of the NSA and the weight of Snowden’s 2013 info leak.
“I have no idea who Edward Snowden is,” several passersby said verbatim when asked by the show.
Oliver postulated that the American people are avoiding the conversation about government surveillance because the concept itself is so complicated. In addition, it is hard for citizens to care if they feel they are personally not affected.
Beyond ignorance of the public, Last Week Tonight lambasted the media for its inept reporting of Snowden’s actions, resulting in the compromising of some important military secrets.
“You’re giving documents with information you know could be harmful which could get out there… we’re not talking about [these journalistic mistakes being made in] bad faith, we’re talking about incompetence,” Oliver told Snowden.
After the surprisingly intense grilling, Oliver had Snowden explain government surveillance in terms the general public could grasp by replacing the concept of personal secrets with naked photos and how the government takes hold of them.
Snowden finished the interview by saying, “You shouldn’t change your behavior because a government agency somewhere is doing the wrong thing. If we sacrifice our values because we’re afraid, we don’t care about those values very much.”