John Oliver, a "disruptive comedian"

John Oliver: I'm not a journalist 07:08


John Oliver groans when you confront him about the "John Oliver effect" or point out Vanity Fair is calling him a "disruptive journalist."

"I'm not a journalist at all, obviously. Obviously, I'm a comedian," Oliver said Friday on "CBS This Morning." "And am I a disruptive comedian? I think comedians are by their nature disruptive, so yeah."

HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" is on a roll, attracting millions of views for its notorious segments on topics including net neutrality, Miss America, bail and televangelists. And sometimes, those pieces incite viewers into action or seemingly influence policies -- thus, the "John Oliver effect."

After a rant in support of net neutrality, he told viewers to "focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction" and directed them to the Federal Communications Commission, overloading and crashing the government agency's website. The FCC ultimately voted to uphold net neutrality.

"I ignore all of that, so the ripple effect after the show has nothing to do with us," Oliver said. "Once we've done the show, we're finished. I would argue that we have very little to do with any of those things."

Oliver's segment on America's bail system also grabbed attention after he called it "a way to lock up the poor, regardless of guilt." A few weeks later, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an initiative to loosen bail requirements for certain low-level offenders. But Oliver denied he had anything to do with the policy shift, saying it was already in the process of changing.

"We were just shining a light on the problems towards the end of that process," he said.

He won't deny, however, that his show often spotlights "absurd public policies."

"That is generally what we look towards, is things that have not been covered too much, but that are inherently ridiculous. And there's plenty," Oliver said.

On the other hand, a topic Oliver thinks the media covers too much is the American presidential campaign and election process, which he called "undeniably long."

John Oliver: American democracy looks like a ... 01:19

"No one can say that the American democratic process is not long, or indeed, way too long. And there's a lot of balloons involved. American democracy looks like a 4-year-old's birthday party," Oliver said.

Oliver said he is frustrated by the amount of coverage even years before elections actually happen.

"A lot of debates. A lot of talking without a great deal being said," Oliver said.

One thing's for sure during the drawn-out process: Oliver will not be inviting GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to his show.

"I haven't really got anything to say to him. There's nothing -- he said everything he wants to say. He has no internal monologue, that man," Oliver said. "So it's not like you're going to find the secret nugget he's been holding back. He's an open book, and that book doesn't have many interesting words in it."

In its second season, "Last Week Tonight" is still evolving.

"I feel we're getting a little more stable in how we do things. We're changing our process a bit. We're trying to do things a little more long form occasionally. We set up a church this year. That involved a back-and-forth relationship for about seven months," Oliver said.

The show has been renewed for its third and fourth seasons, and Oliver said he plans to pursue more long-term research projects like the show's church, "Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption."