John Oliver Takes on Dr. Phil, Fox News, ‘Fabulously Wrong’ Rush Limbaugh For Coronavirus Coverage


On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver blasted Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and Dr. Phil McGraw for spreading misinformation during their coverage of the coronavirus.

Oliver began his segment by listing some misconceptions around the coronavirus, such as the belief that garlic and breast milk can cure it, and the fact that 40 percent of Americans believe Covid-19 is less deadly than the flu. Oliver then explained to his viewers that these theories exist because they’re peddled by several media outlets and personalities.

“Even well into the outbreak, Limbaugh has been spouting some fabulously wrong information,” Oliver said of the conservative radio host.

Oliver then played a clip of Limbaugh from March 11, during which he claimed that the panic surrounding the coronavirus was “unwarranted,” compared it to the common cold, and said the virus was called Covid-19 because it is the 19th coronavirus.

The coronavirus is actually referred to as Covid-19 because the outbreak began in 2019, which Oliver quickly pointed out before calling Limbaugh a “gigantic potato” and then trashing his coronavirus beard.

“The problem is, many in conservative media have found it easy to fold this virus into narratives they have been carefully building up for decades,” Oliver said. “Limbaugh has endlessly pushed his ‘four corners of deceit; on his radio show. This includes government, academia, science, and media, which all happen to be important groups to listen to during a public health crisis. On top of that, he has established his show as a sole outlet worth trusting — which gives him power.”

Oliver then took on Fox News for downplaying the coronavirus amid the beginning of the pandemic, criticizing network hosts such as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.

“And when people started dying, and their arguments became harder to sell, the network seemed to pivot from trying to downplay the warnings, to trying to downplay the deaths,” Oliver continued before playing a clip of several Fox News hosts and guests scoffing at the low death toll when the virus was first present in the U.S.

Fox News did, however, begin to take the coronavirus more seriously as the death toll began to rise, which Oliver claimed was only “for money.”

Oliver also criticized Dr. Phil’s recent argument for re-opening the economy, which he justified by citing annual mortality data for car accidents and swimming pool deaths.

“Oh thanks, ‘Not-a-Medical Doctor’ Phil,” Oliver mocked before correcting his false data and noting that swimming pool deaths are not contagious. “They’re not killing almost a Cleveland every year, the total number of drownings, period, is around 4,000.”

Watch above, via HBO.

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