John Oliver…the Journalist?

By Jordan Chariton 

OliverThe Associated Press’ David Bauder writes about HBO satirist John Oliver’s comedy show venturing into new and unknown territory—investigative journalism.

His 15-minute Miss America segment began with jokes about how dated a beauty pageant seems, and his incredulity at some of the questions contestants are asked. He took some shots at Donald Trump, who owns a competing pageant. Then he zeroed in on the Miss America organization’s claim of making $45 million in scholarship money available to young women each year. “Forty-five million,” Oliver said. “That is an unbelievable amount of money. As in, I literally did not believe that.” His staff researched documents, finding a federal disclosure form that said the pageant spent $482,000 in scholarships in 2012. They researched tax forms on statewide pageants, finding several scholarship offers that couldn’t possibly be awarded at the same time were added together to help reach the final figure. In other words, people shouldn’t confuse money that may be available with money spent.That’s journalism, minus any apparent attempt to let pageant officials offer their side. The organization subsequently issued a statement not specifically addressing Oliver’s charge that Miss America was being misleading, but said that “as with any scholarship, the full amount awarded may not always be used as recipients plans change or evolve.

Bauder reports Oliver has former New York Times and ProPublica journalists writing on his “Last Week Tonight” staff. At the TVNewser Show in April, Fox News’ Bret Baier lauded Oliver for his coverage of India’s elections. “After I saw that, I said ‘we are dropping the ball on that coverage,'” Baier told us. Oliver’s investigation into the Miss America Pageant after the jump.