last night on late night

John Oliver Explores the Dark Side of Public Shaming With Monica Lewinsky

During last night’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver explored the complicated issue of public shaming, which can be an effective way of calling out bad behavior by public figures (see Tucker Carlson) but can also be destructive for private citizens (see Monica Lewinsky). Oliver takes some time during the segment to call out how late-night shows have pounced on the opportunity to shame Lewinsky over the years, with even Oliver himself expressing regret over a Daily Show segment in which he participated in Lewinsky ridicule. No late-night host seemed to delight more in roasting Lewinsky than Jay Leno, which Oliver thinks is extra rich considering Leno’s comments on late-night TV just last week. “Those jokes have not dated well in any sense of the word, and they’re pretty rough — especially coming from a guy who just this week complained about late-night TV, saying he’d ‘like to see a bit of civility come back.’ You know, like that time that he did a bit with a fake book about Lewinsky titled The Slut in the Hat,” Oliver said. “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!

Later in the segment, Oliver sat down with Lewinsky for an insightful chat about public shaming, which she agreed can sometimes be an effective approach depending on the target. Calling her own experience with public shaming an “avalanche of pain and humiliation,” Lewinsky says that while having Twitter around during the Clinton scandal would have definitely made it worse, it also would’ve helped to see tweets from people who saw her as an undeserving victim of misdirected rage. “One of the things that happens with these kinds of experiences is that you start to disappear — you start to feel like you don’t matter — and I think that when somebody sees you and just acknowledges your humanity in the smallest way, it really can make a world of a difference. And you don’t know — it could help save someone’s life,” she points out. And if you ever find yourself on the receiving end of public shaming, now you can turn to Lewinsky for some expert advice: “The first thing I’d probably say is that you can get through it. You can move past it. I know it feels like in this one moment that your life will forever be defined by this, but it won’t. And it may be hard, it may take more time than you ever could’ve imagined, but you can move past something like this.”

John Oliver Chats With Public Shaming Expert Monica Lewinsky