Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was among the celebrities who joined Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on Sunday night to try to dispel conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic. The show did a deep dive segment on the spread of misinformation about the public health crisis, and ended with some hilarious cameos where celebrities vouched for "the true, true truth." Trebek's full piece is about 90 seconds long.
Last Week Tonight tackled the problem of COVID-19 conspiracy theories on Sunday in its first new episode in two weeks. It traced not only the content of these ideas, but the sources they come from, and the mindset that motivates their creators and their believers. Oliver noted some of the different demographics that believers tend to come from and recruited celebrity guests that he hoped would get through to those people. In the case of "confused grandparents [who] are passing around dangerous misinformation about not wearing a mask," he went with Trebek.
"They may not listen to me, but they might listen to the man that they've been letting into their home every weeknight to calmly tell them what is and isn't correct," he said before the shot cut to a video of Trebek in his home.
Trebek delivered a light-hearted, yet firm speech about medical misinformation and believing in public health officials. Only a part of his segment appeared on Last Week Tonight, but the full video was uploaded to TheTrueTrueTruth.com — a website that Oliver and his staff made in the hopes of reaching conspiracy theorists.
Trebek is not the only star on the site, either. Others include WWE and Hollywood star John Cena, actor Paul Rudd, comedian Catherine O'Hara and Broadway star Billy Porter. Each was apparently chosen to reach a different segment of the general conspiracy theory audience, and they approached the segment with a friendly, gentle tone. Oliver explained that this is the best way to try and dissuade a conspiracy theorist from their dangerous ideas.
"What experts say is that the most effective way of approaching someone is not by shaming them for believing something, or overwhelming them with counter-evidence, but to try being empathetic, meet them where they are, and nudge them to think a bit more critically," Oliver explained.
This is the tenth episode of Last Week Tonight to be dedicated almost entirely to a story about the coronavirus pandemic, with only the first one being filmed in the studio. The show will be back with another new episode on Sunday, July 26 at 11 p.m. ET on HBO.