Bill Maher Blasts Media’s COVID-19 “Panic Porn,” Warning Gloom-And-Doom Coverage May Get Donald Trump Re-Elected

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Bill Maher, clad in his customary suit and tie but hosting HBO’s Real Time from his expansive back yard instead of the studio, ripped media coverage of COVID-19 as “panic porn,” warning it could get President Donald Trump re-elected.

“News sources have to rein it in,” he said in the show’s closing monologue. “Everyone knows that coronavirus is no walk in the park … ‘cause you literally can’t walk in the park. But at some point the daily drumbeat of depression and terror veers into panic porn.”

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After showing a parade of doomsday headlines from outlets both highbrow and low, he ranted, “you don’t have to put hot sauce on a jalopeño!” His logic on why this all helps Trump took something of a pretzel shape, but it boiled down to this: Candidates running for a president on an optimistic theme historically fare best. If the outcome, even in the near term, ends up being more positive than many media accounts have made it out to be, Trump can paint himself as the up-with-people patriot, compared with Democratic Joe Biden.

Maher piled up several examples, noting that syndicated strip Inside Edition reported that the then-tally of 76,000 deaths was making some draw “comparisons to the apocalypse.” For all but front-line health care workers, Maher argued, “This is not the apocalypse.”

The New York Times, he continued, has also resorted to using the word “apocalypse,” even when describing positive trends in the virus statistic. The Gray Lady also took a drubbing from Maher for its banner headline after record unemployment claims underscored the economic wreckage by leading with an all-caps quote at the top of the front page: “It’s Terrifying.”

Maher acknowledged the phrase was accurate as a quote, but “who are they quoting?” he asked. “An event planner in North Hollywood. No offense to the event planners of the world – it’s amazing what you can do with pine cones and a few cans of silver spray paint. But why are you in my headline? How about this: Just tell me millions are out of work without the flashlight under the chin and I’ll decide how I feel about it.”

After appearing ready to follow Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil in invoking U.S. deaths by flu, car accidents and other causes compared with the devastation of COVID-19, Maher then came out as anti-death — “and I don’t care who knows it!” he cracked.

“Giving the proper perspective isn’t a cover-up of the truth. It is the truth,” he said, on a more serious note. “We need the news to calm down and treat us like adults. Trump calls it fake news. Don’t make him right.”

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