Wednesday, April 8, 2015

John Oliver Interviews Edward Snowden

John Oliver's new HBO series Last Week Tonight builds on The Daily Show's brand to continue making fun of the news and conducting semi-spoof, semi-serious interviews. Last week, Oliver flew to Russia to interview Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker who fled the country nearly two years ago.

Watching the interview, viewers can see how-not-so serious news still brings value to viewers. Oliver matches his ridiculous questions with much more serious questions and, at times, tough criticism of Snowden. There are many times throughout the interview when Snowden looks very uncomfortable or grimaces, particularly one instances when Oliver asks him if he actually read ever document he leaked. The Oliver interview was arguably tough on Snowden than Brian Williams's NBC interview of Snowden last summer.  

Second, I wondered about the simple logistics of conducting the interview. How does an American journalist contact Snowden? How do they set up the interview? How do they bring all their equipment into Moscow? The entire process intrigued me.

Lastly, I found HBO's model interesting. While the NBC interview is broken into segments, each with their own advertisements, and tedious to watch, HBO made the entire episode easily available on YouTube. I could not tell if this was a public service given the importance of the interview, a ploy to get the young show more publicity, or a regular trend in new television shows. In any case, the entire interview is easily-accessible online for all to see.

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