Video: John Oliver gives us the Edward Snowden interview we need

The HBO host went to Russia to sit down with Edward Snowden for a frank and funny discussion of the surveillance state and the Patriot Act

Edward Snowden

In the years since Edward Snowden first revealed the depth and breadth of the U.S. government's surveillance activities, we were supposed to have a big debate about how to maintain the delicate balance of privacy and security. But as John Oliver notes, we kind of forgot to open that discussion and instead moved on to other topics. Despite our inattention, the issue hasn't gone away. As the video below shows, Oliver is still on the case -- and even scored an interview with Snowden himself.

It's John Oliver, so there are plenty of great laughs (and NSFW language) to be had. But Oliver also proves an excellent noncomedic interviewer, facilitating a substantive discussion about the rhetoric versus the reality of the surveillance state, the myriad risks for both himself and his country that Snowden courted in revealing the information, and where the limits of government surveillance should lie.

"Everything you did only matters if we have this conversation properly," says Oliver. He does his best to propel the conversation -- but try not to weep at the clip of MSNBC cutting short an interview with a former Congresswoman who believes that the Patriot Act needs to be reined in so that the network can bring the "breaking news" of Justin Bieber facing criminal charges in Miami.


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