John Oliver rips media's coverage of Baltimore

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(HBO/Last Week Tonight)
(HBO/Last Week Tonight)

John Oliver opened HBO's "Last Week Tonight" Sunday with a recap of the riots in Baltimore — specifically, the media's coverage of the unrest.

“It has been a delicate situation,” Oliver said, “handled by the media with all the deft, not-at-all-racist touch that they’ve become known for.”

Oliver played a clip of Fox News host Geraldo Rivera mistakenly identifying record executive Kevin Liles, who was participating in protests, as Russell Simmons.

“OK, Geraldo, you do realize that when African-Americans stand together as one, that doesn’t mean they are all literally the same person," Oliver said.

But Rivera wasn't alone. CNN's Brian Todd made the same mistake.

"You bear a striking resemblance to Russell Simmons," Todd told Liles. "You tell me you're not him, you're Kevin Liles — I'm not sure I believe you."

“Why is everyone so insistent on finding Russell Simmons in the middle of this crowd?” Oliver asked. “Is there a prize for the first reporter to find him? Because this guy would not let it go.”

Todd insisted that the person he met was the Def Jam founder, who was trying "to masquerade as a man named Kevin Liles."

"He's not masquerading as someone else!" Oliver exclaimed. "That's not Russell Simmons! This isn't an episode of 'Scooby Doo' — you're not going to pull off his mask and go, 'Look, everyone, it was Russell Simmons.'"

To be fair, Todd later tweeted an apology to Liles.

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Oliver pointed out that the officers charged in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray posted bail in amounts ranging from $250,000 to $350,000, but bail for one of the protesters accused of smashing a police car window was set at $500,000.

"To put that in context, even Robert Durst had his bail set at just $300,000 after definitely not killing that guy in Galveston, Texas," Oliver said. "That amount of money makes absolutely no sense! That kid’s crimes were misdemeanors; he turned himself in — in fact, the only explanation for his bail being set that high would be that, just like Geraldo Rivera and that guy from CNN, judges in Baltimore can’t look at black people without seeing millionaire Russell Simmons."