When HBO announced John Oliver would interview Gen. Keith Alexander (Ret.), the former director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command, on tonight’s premiere of his new HBO late-night topical comedy show Last Week Tonight, some people wondered why Alexander picked a comedy show for his first sit-down with TV media since retiring as NSA director. But nobody questioned why Oliver decided to kick off a comedy show with the NSA story.
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Last November, when HBO announced it had signed Comedy Central’s The Daily Show correspondent to host the weekly news riff, Michael Lombardo said the network wasn’t looking for another weekly talk show, “but when we saw John Oliver handling host duties on The Daily Show, we knew that his singular perspective and distinct voice belonged on HBO.” Oliver started with a bang because, the day before, The Guardian of London had posted an video interview with 29-year-old former CIA technical assistant Edward Snowden in which he revealed he was the source of media reports about top-secret NSA surveillance programs that had started breaking earlier in the week. Oliver had a field day. Here are some of the clips from Oliver’s opening night as The Daily Show‘s fill-in host: