The popular center-left HBO late night comedy show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver just devoted the main segment of one episode to cryptocurrencies. While other late-night shows have taken jabs at cryptocurrencies (and often made numerous glaring mistakes) LWT got their facts pretty much right. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the points they covered, as well as their take on the now infamous BitConnect.
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LWT Becomes ‘Last Bit Tonight’
The segment starts after a fairly typical LWT intro of Trump-bashing and left wing political talking points. Once the intro was over, Oliver suddenly transitioned into a segment he said was about technology, and that he doesn’t like to make predictions. He used the example of Google Glass, showing clips of people saying that Google Glass is the next big thing.
Starting off simple, Oliver went over some of the basics of Bitcoin. His description of Bitcoin was still somewhat technical, but also highly accurate. Specifically, he described Bitcoin as a decentralized currency that is easy to send anywhere around the world, and is not issued by any bank.
What’s also impressive is that he didn’t fall into the trap of many mainstream media personalities by discussing how bitcoin is “backed by nothing” or “not real”. Instead, he uses the example of the Beanie Babies fad to explain that bitcoin is valuable because people agree that it’s valuable, and are willing to pay for it.
Oliver then spent a few minutes discussing blockchain, but unfortunately lacked the time to go more in-depth on what blockchain could do in the future. Instead, he focused on the speed and security benefits of blockchain technology.
Showing some clips of an interview from a PBS special last year, a comparison was presented about hacking bitcoin and how difficult it is to actually do. Specifically, Don Tapscott of Blockchain Research Institute appeared, saying that successfully hacking bitcoin would be the same as “turning a Chicken McNugget back into a chicken”.
ICOs and Lambos
LWT’s next section was where things got a little more topical. Oliver went over the fact that there are now many thousands of cryptocurrencies, and listed off a handful of them with, let’s say, unique names. Some of those included Trumpcoin (of course), Insanecoin, Wax, Clams, and DeepOnion, just to name a few. He then talked about Dogecoin and how it started as a joke but today holds quite a lot of value.
He then went over some of the culture of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, including concepts like Hodl, Lambo, Moon, Rekt, and so on.
BitConnect and EOS
Towards the end of the segment, Oliver went into the various scams that are plaguing cryptocurrency today. Most notably, he spent several minutes going over pump and dump groups, and then of course, BitConnect. Oliver described how BitConnect promised monthly returns of the 40 percent, and how to any same person this would obviously appear to be a scam.
Next we saw the now-legendary shouting of “I love BitConnect!” several times by former BitConnect spokesman Carlos Matos.
Following BitConnect, some discussion of EOS came up. Oliver noted that EOS has been able to raise more money than either Facebook or Uber, and in a much shorter time frame.
However, EOS currently has no working product. He even mentioned some of the controversy relating to the ERC-20 tokens that EOS has released which allegedly have “no purpose”. In a sense, anyone investing in EOS is doing so based purely on faith, and nothing else.
The episode closed with a somewhat ham-fisted but still humorous take on the infamous BitConnect conference with the previously mentioned screaming Carlos Matos. Oliver continued to ham things up by creating a faux-BitConnect logo on the screen that says “responsibility”. He urged viewers to be “craeful” as a joke on the previously mentioned hodl meme.
Oh by the way, here’s the segment for you to watch for yourselves:
But Was It Any Good?
While those who already understand cryptocurrency will not likely learn anything new from the segment, it was still an entertaining watch.
If you’re looking for a way to get your relatives to understand cryptocurrency a little better, showing them the segment could be a reasonable way to do so. That is, if you don’t mind all the mentions of scams and warnings that investing in cryptocurrency is equivalent to gambling.
Regardless of whether or not the piece presented more negative than positive information, it showed everything in a relatively accurate and factual manner. It is for this reason that we can say the segment was at least… pretty decent.
What did you think of Last Week Tonight’s take on cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments.
Images via LWT, HBO