Bill Maher Rips News Media for 'Apocalyptic' Coronavirus Coverage: 'Don't Hope-Shame Me'

HBO host Bill Maher blasted the news media for blaring headlines that make Americans believe coronavirus has pushed the country into an "apocalypse," warning that such gloomy coverage of the pandemic allows President Donald Trump to "play the optimist."

The Real Time With Bill Maher host on Friday criticized several of the country's top media publications, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, for repeatedly running bombastic headlines about COVID-19 instead of covering the health care battle with a more sober, purely informative tone. Maher told viewers he refuses to be "hope-shamed" now that several parts of the country appear to be "flattening the curve" of coronavirus cases. But the longtime comedian said that while obviously the deaths and illnesses caused by the pandemic are horrendous, "we need the news to calm down and treat us like adults."

"Now that we're starting to see some hope in all of this -- don't hope-shame me," Maher said in his "New Rule" segment entitled "Comfortably Glum."

We need the news to calm down and treat us like adults. Trump calls you #fakenews. Don't make him right. #Coronapocalypse #PanicPorn

— Bill Maher (@billmaher) April 18, 2020

"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," the HBO host continued, showing a picture of former President Barack Obama's "Hope" campaign poster. "FDR said 'the only thing we have to fear is fear itself' -- you know as full of s**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."

"Trump calls you 'fake news' -- don't make him be right," Maher added later in the show.

Maher compared what he described as the fear-inducing news coverage of COVID-19 this year to the more solemn headlines surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the dropping of the atomic bomb to end World War II, and the sinking of the Titanic. He painted a lazy scene of pot-smoking and watching TV in quarantine to contrast with the "terrifying" news headlines coming from the country's largest publications.

"Most of us are at home smoking delivery weed and watching a show about a gay zookeeper," Maher said, referencing Netflix's Tiger King documentary series.

"News sources have to reign it in. Everyone knows coronavirus is no walk in the park. Because you literally can't walk in the park. But at some point, the daily drum beat of depression and terror veers into panic porn. Enough with the 'life will never be the same' headlines." Maher's producers showed several ominous headlines from The Washington Post, The New York Times, Yahoo! and Politico with titles including, "If You're Feeling Hopeless Due to COVID-19, You're Not Alone."

Maher quipped about countless news outlets using a magnified image of the coronavirus to "scare" people into believing their health may be deteriorating.

Maher particularly called out The Washington Post for using a headline last month that read, "It feels like a war zone," with a picture of a grocery store employee unloading a box of eggs. He also ripped into a Daily Mail headline that stated: "Horrifying simulation reveals the dangers of jogging during the coronavirus pandemic."

The comedian quipped: "If you can't outrun [coronavirus] jogging, you can't outrun much."

"The media is obsessed within finding young people who have died of COVID-19," he continued, citing a recent Post report which showed there are 759 people under age 50 who have died as a result of coronavirus. He compared this to the 3,000 people under 50 who died of the flu last year while reiterating that death shouldn't be purely about numbers.

"So all this misery from distancing did some good. Can I be happy about that?" he asked. "You sound like Lindsey Graham talking about ISIS when Obama was president."

He criticized The New York Times for running an article which cautioned readers that New York state is "braced for apocalyptic surge," when in fact the piece went on to detail how much better the city was doing than health experts had previously predicted.

bill maher coronavirus news coverage
HBO host Bill Maher ripped the news media for blaring headlines which make Americans believe coronavirus has pushed the country into an "apocalypse," warning that such gloomy coverage of the pandemic allows President Donald Trump to "play the optimist." Screenshot: BIll Maher | Twitter