Various shows have gone beyond the pale when it comes to using dirty psychological tricks. Bill O'Rielly putting the 'final word' on his screen while he read it. Subtly programming visual learners who aren't expecting it.
Oliver has a more crafted formula though. It's been adopted by other batshit insane Liberal Propaganda outlets, but Oliver's is formulaic enough they can't break out of it now.
"On a more serious note, the subject of john oliver came up when a colleague (fellow psychologist) and I were discussing politics a few months ago. Although we were both in agreement regarding the general ****lib inanity of the HBO show, my friend was surprised when I explained that the real insidiousness of it is its unmistakably hypnotic structure and pacing.
I ended up pulling up an episode or two off of youtube to show her what I meant. All of the segments I've ever seen from this show follow the same repetitive format: present some "argumentation" and "facts" for about 10 seconds, then quickly follow these up with a snarky quip (which themselves overwhelmingly take the form of complete non-sequitur or otherwise absurd metaphor) before any rational processing of the preceding argument can take place in the mind of the viewer. Further telling is that the only 'beats' or mental pauses in the show's pacing exist solely to highlight the approving laughter or applause of the studio audience. Repeat this basic formula without variation 20-40 times in a row and you have one of the 12-20 minute 'segments' that form the backbone of the show.
The end effect is (obviously) not to deliver information, but rather to literally teach the viewers -- on a subconscious level -- to mentally associate derisive laughter with any person or opinion that is at odds with the narrative's take on the chosen issue. And it accomplishes this by maintaining a strict adherence to a roughly 20-second cycle in which a stimulus is presented, and a response is cued. This is the sense in which the show is fundamentally hypnotic in effect -- even moreso than its precursors in the genre (Daily Show, Colbert, etc).
To my mind, oliver's show is representative of the media's increasing mastery of the methodologies of mass conditioning; in fact it is almost such a perfect technical accomplishment that I would almost have to admire it on technical grounds, if only it weren't so troubling a development, which moreover is in the hands of the entirely wrong people."