John Oliver made headlines this week for pulling off an extremely generous move to help people struggling with medical bills.
As Sunday's "Last Week Tonight" closed, the show host helped out around 9,000 people by purchasing and forgiving approximately $15 million worth of medical debt.
However, he has now come under fire by an activist group claiming that Oliver used their work and ideas, but failed to give them credit for it.
On Monday, Debt Collective released a statement alleging that employees for Oliver’s show got in touch with them around eight months ago, inquiring about a project of buying and canceling debt, Rolling Jubilee, which was active during 2012 and 2015. The project reportedly eradicated around $30 million in tuition and predatory medical debt.
The Debt Collective group said "Last Week Tonight" researchers contacted them, showing interest in producing their feat highlighting various issues. Debt Collective members spent hours on the phone with LWT researchers telling them how the whole deal of canceling debt works, as they connected them to other experts in the field. Apparently, they were told that LWT was interested in producing a feat “highlighting the mechanisms of oppression used by the creditor class.”
But then, the group claims, show researchers backed off at the last minute, saying they “did not want to associate themselves with the work of the Rolling Jubilee due to its roots in Occupy Wall Street.”
Now Debt Collective accuses Oliver of stealing their ideas to compete with Oprah Winfrey, and becoming the person to handout the largest giveaway on TV. Although they are disappointed with Oliver, Debt Collective members say the only way to deal with debt is for debtors to come together to challenge the current economic system that actually lands them in financial peril.
HBO representatives have not commented on the accusations against Oliver and "Last Week Tonight."