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Bill Maher Calls Out Media ‘Panic Porn’ and ‘Hope-Shame,’ Warns Trump Could Ride Optimism to Reelection

Bill Maher devoted his Friday ‘New Rule’ segment to highlighting the media’s at-times overwhelming emphasis on doom and gloom coverage during the coronavirus, warning that this “panic porn” could end up playing to President Donald Trump’s advantage in the 2020 election.

“Now that we’re staring to see some hope in all this,” Maher said, broadly addressing the media, “don’t hope-shame me.”

“The problem with non-stop doom and gloom is it gives Trump the chance to play the optimist,” Maher noted, before showing a shot of Obama’s iconic 2008 “HOPE” campaign poster. “And optimists tend to win American elections.”

Recalling FDR’s famous “only thing we have to fear is fear itself” line, Maher went on to say: “As full of shit 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.”

“News sources have to rein it in. Everyone one knows corona is no walk in the park, because you literally can’t walk in the park,” he snarked. “But at some point the daily drumbeat of depression and terror veers into panic porn.”

He then called out the trope of “life will never be the same” news narratives and the now ubiquitous microscopic close-up shots of the virus. “Everything looks scary if you magnify it a 1,000 times,” he said, as a shot of a scaly, trunk-like object appeared on screen. “Here’s a pubic hair, BOO!”

Maher specifically called out several Washington Post and New York Times headlines for exacerbating fears and apocalyptic framing. “Giving a proper perspective on the truth isn’t covering up the truth, it is the truth,” he added, pointing out several other major causes of death for Americans relative to the coronavirus death toll, which has risen to be the nation’s top killer in just three months.

“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.”

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