During Friday night’s edition of HBO’s Real Time, comedian Bill Maher delivered a scathing monologue, urging the American media to “calm down” and provide more balanced reporting on the coronavirus pandemic.
“New rule, now that we’re starting to see some hope in all this: Don’t hope-shame me,” he said. “You know the problem with non-stop gloom and doom is it gives Trump the chance to play the optimist.”
Reminding his viewers of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous “Nothing to fear but fear itself” speech, Maher warned that Trump could end up “riding” this sentiment to the White House, providing hope and optimism for the American people during a deadly pandemic.
The anchor then called out a number of prominent news outlets, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, accusing them of using hyperbolic language and spreading fear. The situation is “still bad,” Maher argued, but not nearly as bad as the media claimed it would be.
“Enough with the ‘life will never be the same’ headlines, and stop showing us this, you know everything looks scary when you magnified it a thousand times,” he said, calling on the media to stop displaying microscopic images of COVID-19.
Maher then urged the news media to “rein it in,” contending that panic-inducing reporting is making Americans more scared than they should be. The way the coronavirus pandemic has been covered, the host concluded, has only given credence to Trump’s attacks on the press.
“We need the news to calm down and treat us like adults. Trump calls you fake news, don’t make him be right.”
Maher, a vocal Trump critic, has previously defended some of the president’s actions amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, the comedian opined that there is nothing wrong with Trump calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus,” arguing that scientists have long been naming viruses after their place of origin.
Maher also criticized Democratic lawmakers for suggesting that the terminology Trump has used has xenophobic implications. Notably, the comedian took a shot at California Rep. Ted Lieu, arguing that calling the virus after its place of origin has nothing to do with Asian Americans.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Trump has been holding daily press conferences at the White House. On a number of occasions, the president has used the briefings to launch attacks on the media. During a conference in early April, he urged members of the press to stop spreading rumors and inducing panic.