Bill Maher warns media its condescending ‘panic porn’ virus coverage could be a big backfire

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Even comedian Bill Maher has had enough of the media’s depressing coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

The HBO host took issue with the “panic porn” being peddled by the mainstream media in covering the pandemic and declared that the press should “calm down and treat us like adults” or else their gloomy outlook could get President Donald Trump re-elected.


(Source: YouTube)

Maher delivered his editorial “New Rule” segment on HBO’s “Real Time” from his backyard on Friday’s show due to the coronavirus shutdowns, targeting the doomsday headlines from media.

“Now that we’re starting to see some hope in all this, don’t hope-shame me,” Maher began.

“You know the problem with non-stop gloom and doom is it gives Trump the chance to play the optimist. And optimists tend to win American elections,” he added.

Recalling President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” line, Maher said: “As full of sh*t as he is, I could see Trump riding that into a second term and then there will be no hope left for you to shame.”

“So look, if this insanity happens, again, news sources have to rein it in,” he continued.

“Everyone knows that coronavirus is no walk in the park because you literally can’t walk in the park. But at some point the daily drumbeat of depression and terror veers into panic porn,” he said.

“Enough with the ‘life will never be the same’ headlines, and stop showing us this,” he said as a graphic popped up on the screen of the microscopic close-up shot of the virus. “Everything looks scary if you magnify it a 1,000 times.”

The HBO host went on to highlight recent headlines as examples, noting first the Washington Post story, “It Feels Like a War Zone,” which included a photo of a supermarket worker unloading boxes in the dairy section of a store.

“This is not a war zone,” Maher snarked. “This is a man with a box of eggs. And I’ve never seen a war zone with this much bacon.”

Another headline from the Daily Mail read: “Horrifying simulation reveals the dangers of jogging during the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Look, this virus is easy to catch but if you can’t avoid it jogging, you can’t outrun much,” Maher said.

“Two weeks ago ‘Inside Edition’ said 76,000 in the world had died so some are making comparisons to the apocalypse. The apocalypse? Really? Because most of us are sitting at home smoking delivery weed and binge-watching a show about a gay zookeeper,” Maher continued.

“Unless you’re a front-line health care worker for whom the phrase ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ doesn’t even begin to cover it, this is not the apocalypse,” he added, going on to note a New York Times article that focused on New York City and “how much better the city was doing than expected,” while using the word apocalyptic.

Going on to declare that “you don’t have to put hot sauce on a jalapeno,” Maher pulled out another New York Times headline that read, “‘It’s Terrifying’: Millions More Out of Work,” asking “what the f— is ‘it’s terrifying’ doing in a headline?”

(Image: HBO screenshot)

“Granted, it’s a quote, but who are they quoting? Trump? Fauci? Stephen King? No, they’re quoting an event planner in North Hollywood. No offense to the event planners of the world, it’s amazing what you people can do with pine cones and 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,” he suggested.

“There was never headlines like this before,” Maher contended. “There was no ‘It’s terrifying: Planes hit World Trade Center. There was no ‘It’s sad: Titanic sinks after hitting iceberg’ or ‘First atomic bomb dropped: OUCH!’”

Maher argued also that the media is “obsessed” with finding young people who have died from coronavirus, and noted that thousands died of the flu last year.

“So all this misery from distancing did some good,” he said, noting that he is against death “and I don’t care who knows it!”

“But giving a proper perspective isn’t a cover-up of the truth, it is the truth. Sudden dramatic deaths, like plane crashes, shark attacks, tornadoes, mass shootings, terrorism, awful as they are, kill far less than seasonal flu. Even hospital-acquired infections may very well kill more than coronavirus,” he said, noting current unemployment levels and even showing a photo of mass graves that appeared in the news.

“We need the news to calm down and treat us like adults,” Maher concluded. “Trump calls you ‘fake news,’ don’t make him be right.”

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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