John Oliver took jabs at Elon Musk for his early chaotic reign as Twitter CEO on Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight.
“It has now been three weeks since it was taken over by Elon Musk, a man who answers the question ‘What if Willy Wonka benefited from apartheid?’” Oliver said at the beginning of the segment on what was the show’s season finale.
He went on to explain that Twitter has been a “total mess” since Musk walked through the headquarters with a sink and made the weak joke, “let that sink in.” Oliver continued by pointing out that “many of the worst people on Twitter” seem to think Musk’s takeover is a sign that the brakes were now off.
“One analysis [found] the use of a racial slur spiking nearly 500 percent in the 12 hours after his deal was finalized, which is pretty shocking,” the host said, “even for a website where a regular trending topic is sometimes just ‘The Jews.’ You’ll log in and see 30,000 people tweeting about ‘The Jews’ on a Tuesday afternoon, and you do not want to click to find out why.”
He shared a clip of an interview Musk did where he said that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in the coming months, while it finds its new footing. One of the things, Oliver noted, was paying for verified checkmarks, which showed “predictable results,” like people impersonating major companies simply because they were able to pay $8 to look official.
“Clearly, things are changing on Twitter right now,” he said. “For instance, the site no longer seems to be adding explanations to trending topics, a feature that previously helped add greater context and combated misinformation.”
Oliver concluded his intro segment by saying that Musk clearly doesn’t know what’s going to happen next on the social media platform, now that he’s fired half his staff and is facing several labor lawsuits.
“He’s decimated his staff and degraded his product, and sure, he could try and sell what’s left of Twitter, or it can continue functioning worse than before, as his free for all digital clown town,” the host said. “And while the potential collapse of this site has been sad for the workers and for those who have relied on it, there is undeniably something a little satisfying about a guy who was so desperate to be perceived as cool and funny on the internet that he paid $44 billion to make it happen, only to discover that he still somehow couldn’t afford it.”
The Last Week Tonight host then turned his attention over to the World Cup, which he said is “like the Super Bowl, except the rest of the world actually gives a fuck.” The main segment discussed the 2022 soccer tournament and how FIFA knew Qatar was a “fundamentally bad choice” to host it but chose to do it there anyway.
Oliver went on to list several reasons why the Connecticut-sized country wasn’t the right place, like its severe summers, the fact that it would have to build nine stadiums in order to make the games work and a lack of human rights. FIFA, which the host called a “cartel-like group of scumbags and assorted criminals who occasionally put on soccer matches,” knew all of this before deciding on the location.
The host spent the majority of the segment focused on the laborers who had to build all the infrastructure that Qatar needed in order to make a World Cup work. The government recruited hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from India, Nepal and Bangladesh, who had to pay recruitment fees of up to $4,000 to secure a job.
The workers arrived in Qatar already in debt and trapped in a system known as kafala, which is considered “modern-day slavery,” the show explained. They had to build the stadiums in temperatures as high as 125 degrees Fahrenheit. The men were packed in wall-to-wall labor camps, eight to a room, sleeping in bed-bug-infested beds, without a shower and two kitchens that were shared by 600 men.
Anish Adhikari, a migrant worker who worked in Qatar leading up to the World Cup, spoke to Last Week Tonight about how he hopes that some of the athletes participating in the games will help shine a light on all the exploitation that went into the tournament now that it’s started, Oliver explained.
“My message for Messi: Thousands of workers like me have worked on the stadium,” Adhikari said. “We did not get our salary, our benefits. I hope that if you talk about workers like us, maybe we will get what we are owed. I do not have much faith, but still, I have hope.”