Bill Maher: Media Should 'Treat Us Like Adults' With Coronavirus Coverage

“You know the problem with nonstop gloom and doom is it gives Trump the chance to play the optimist. And optimists tend to win American elections,” Maher says

During this week’s “Real Time,” Bill Maher took issue with how people especially in the media have been reacting to the coronavirus pandemic. Expressing the worry that “panic porn” will cede any optimism about this crisis to President Trump, Maher also complained about how news organizations have covered the pandemic, saying media should “calm down and treat us like adults.”

“Now that we’re starting to see some hope in all this, don’t hope-shame me,” Maher began. “You know the problem with nonstop gloom and doom is it gives Trump the chance to play the optimist. And optimists tend to win American elections.”

As an example, Maher cited FDR’s famous “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” then said he worries that “as s— as he is, I can see Trump riding that into a second term. And then there will be no hope left for you to shame.”

Then he turned his attention specifically to the media. “So look. If this insanity happens, again, news sources have to rein it in. Everyone knows corona 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,” Maher continued. “Enough with the ‘life will never be the same’ headlines and stop showing us this,” at which point the screen displayed a common graphical rendering of coronavirus.

Maher then said that anything “you magnify a thousand times” looks scary, and to illustrate that point he showed an extreme close-up of a pubic hair. Then he noted a recent Washington Post headline, ‘It Feels Like a War Zone,’ which included a photograph of a supermarket stocker unloading boxes in a store’s eggs and deli meats section. “This is not a war zone. This is a man with a box of eggs. And I’ve never seen a war zone with this much bacon,” Maher joked.

Then Maher noted another headline, “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.

“And I know, I know, you expect ‘Inside Edition’ to be over the top but The New York Times?” Maher added. “They used the same word last week. ‘Braced for Apocalyptic Surge, New York Avoids Worst So Far.’” (That headline was later changed to “Virus Deaths Mount, but N.Y. Avoids Predicted Surge at Hospitals So Far.”),

“And this was an article about how much better the city was doing than expected… Still bad, but you don’t have to put hot sauce on a jalapeno. Jeez, you sound like Lindsay Graham talking about ISIS when Obama was president.” Then Maher rolled a clip of Graham saying, “This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.”

Maher cited another New York Times headline, “‘It’s Terrifying’: Millions More Out of Work,” adding, “What the f— is ‘it’s terrifying’ doing in a headline? Granted, it’s a quote, but who are they quoting? Trump? Fauchi? 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.”

Maher complained that he’d rather get a straight headline and make his own decision about how to feel. “There was never headlines like this before,” he said. “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 wasn’t entirely accurate here. For instance, on September 12, 2001, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s front page headline was “None of Us Will Ever Forget,” and the Denver Post ran with “Darkest Hour.” Meanwhile, on Aug 7, 1945 the New York Herald-Tribune’s front page read “Atomic Bomb Revolutionizes War,” while the New York Daily News headline about the event included a racial slur.

But back to Maher: “The media also seems obsessed with finding young people who’ve died of COVID-19,” he continued. “The Washington Post says there’s 759 under 50 years old. Horrible, of course. Then I looked up how many under 50 died of the flu last year: almost 3,000.”

“So all this misery from distancing did some good,” Maher said, returning to the point. “Can I be happy about that? Death is terrible, of course, no matter how it comes. I’m against it, 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. 99,000 of them last year. 50,000 die of nephritis every year. And I don’t even know what that is.”

“22 million Americans have filed for unemployment, and many will lose their health insurance. Studies show lacking health insurance kills people. But it doesn’t lead to pictures like this” — he showed a photo of a a mass grave — “And it doesn’t happen all at once.”

“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?”

Watch the full segment above.

All the Movies Suspended or Delayed Due to Coronavirus Pandemic (Updating)

  • As the coronavirus continues to spread, an increasing number of movies are delaying or suspending production. As the number of impacted movies grows, TheWrap felt it would be most informative to keep a running list.

    Disney/MGM/Warner Bros.

  • “No Time to Die” 

    MGM, Universal and Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli announced that after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace, the release of “No Time to Die” will be postponed until November 2020.

    Photo credit: Universal

  • “A Quiet Place Part II” 

    Director John Krasinski announced on Instagram that the horror sequel’s March theatrical release would be delayed amid the growing spread of the coronavirus around the globe. Paramount has now dated the film for release on Sept. 4.

    Photo credit: Paramount

  • “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” 

    “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” was one of the first films delayed as part of the coronavirus, with Sony pushing its late March release to Aug. 7. But as the shutdowns continued, Sony juggled its release slate so that the family film will now open Jan. 15, 2021.

    Photo credit: Sony

  • “Fast and Furious 9” 

    The release of the next “Fast & Furious” installment, “F9,” has been delayed from May 22 to now opening on April 2, 2021.

    Photo credit: Universal

  • “The Lovebirds” 

    Paramount postponed the April 3 theatrical release of the romantic comedy “The Lovebirds” starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani after its SXSW premiere was also canceled. Netflix then acquired the film from Paramount and will release it at a date to be announced.


  • “Blue Story” 

    Paramount delayed the controversial UK gang film “Blue Story,” which was set for release on March 20. A future release date has not been announced.

    Photo credit: Paramount

  • “The Artist’s Wife” 

    Strand Releasing and Water’s End Productions delayed the limited release of the Bruce Dern and Lena Olin film “The Artist’s Wife.” The film was meant to open in New York on April 3 in Los Angeles on April 10 and in San Francisco on April 17. No new release date has been set.

    Strand Releasing

  • “The Truth” 

    Hirokazu Kore-eda’s film “The Truth” from IFC Films will postpone its March 20 domestic release to now open at an unspecified date in summer 2020. The film is in both French and English starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke and has already opened in some overseas markets.

    IFC Films

  • “Mulan” 

    Disney postponed the release of its blockbuster, live-action remake of the animated film “Mulan” from March 27 to now open on July 24. The shift was part of a big shuffle of films Disney made to its release calendar on April 3.


  • “The New Mutants” 

    After numerous delays, 20th Century’s X-Men spinoff “The New Mutants” was also pushed back by Disney “out of an abundance of caution.” The film from director Josh Boone was meant to open April 3. No new release date has been set.

    20th Century Studios

  • “Antlers” 

    “Antlers,” an indie horror film from director Scott Cooper starring Keri Russell, was also pushed back by Disney and Searchlight Pictures from its April 17 release. No new release date has been set.

    Searchlight Pictures

  • “Black Widow” and the MCU

    In a restructuring of its entire release calendar, Disney pushed back every Marvel movie in the cinematic universe. “Black Widow” was meant to open on May 1, but will now shift back to the slot previously occupied by “The Eternals” on Nov. 6.“Eternals” is moving to February 12, 2021, “Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings” will open May 7, 2021, and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is shifting to Nov. 5, 2021. The changes also affected Marvel’s slate for 2022 with “Thor: Love and Thunder” opening Feb. 18, 2022, “Black Panther 2” shifting to May 8, 2022, and “Captain Marvel 2,” which was not previously dated, is now set for a July 8, 2022 release.


  • Untitled Elvis Movie 

    Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic starring Austin Butler ceased production in Australia after co-star Tom Hanks (playing Presley manager Col. Parker) and his wife, Rita Wilson, tested positive for COVID-19.

    Getty Images

  • “Mission: Impossible 7” 

    In late February, Paramount’s action sequel halted production in Italy on the Tom Cruise action sequel.

    Paramount Pictures

  • “The Nightingale” 

    Sony postponed the Budapest shoot of the drama starring real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning.

    Getty Images

  • “Birds of Paradise” 

    Amazon Studios halted production in Budapest on director Sarah Adina Smith’s ballet drama.

    Getty Images

  • “Jurassic World: Dominion” 

    Universal put a pause on production on the third “Jurassic World,” with Chris Pratt returning to star in the dinosaur-stomping sequel.


    Universal Pictures

  • “Flint Strong” 

    Universal also halted production on this boxing biopic starring Ice Cube and Ryan Destiny.

    Getty Images

  • “The Man From Toronto” 

    Sony delayed the start of production on the action comedy starring Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson (who stepped in to replace Jason Statham).

  • “Official Competition”

    Spanish studio Mediapro suspended production on the new comedy starring Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas.

    Getty Images

  • “The Batman” 

    On March 14, Warner Bros. halted the U.K. production on Matt Reeve’s DC Films reboot for at least two weeks. The film stars Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader.

    Warner Bros.

  • “Samaritan” 

    On March 14, MGM paused production on the Sylvester Stallone thriller. The film had been shooting in Atlanta.

    Getty Images

  • “Cinderella”

    Sony’s modernized take on “Cinderella” from director Kay Cannon and starring Camila Cabello will put its production on hiatus due to the travel ban extension to the UK. The film was shooting at Pinewood Studios.

    Getty Images

  • “Fantastic Beasts 3”

    The third installment of J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts” series that’s spun off from the Harry Potter universe will postpone its production that was scheduled to begin in March in the U.K. The film stars Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Katherine Waterston.

    Warner Bros.

  • “The Card Counter”

    Paul Schrader’s “The Card Counter,” starring Oscar Isaac, Willem Dafoe, Tye Sheridan and Tiffany Haddish, shut down production in Los Angeles for five days beginning Monday after the director said on Facebook that a “day player” tested positive for the virus. “Myself, I would have shot through hellfire rain to complete the film,” Schrader added. “I’m old and asthmatic, what better way to die than on the job?”


    Photo by Jayne Wexler for TheWrap

  • “The Matrix 4”

    Production on “The Matrix 4” was temporarily put on hold in March, an individual with knowledge told TheWrap. The sequel starring Keanu Reeves was in production in Berlin, Germany.

    Warner Bros.

  • “First Cow”

    After releasing Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow” in limited release on March 6, the distributor announced Monday it will re-release the film in theaters later this year.


  • “Deerskin”

    The theatrical release of the indie film “Deerskin” from director Quentin Dupieux starring Jean Dujardin has been postponed until further notice. Greenwich Entertainment meant to release the film on March 20 after it played at Cannes, TIFF and Fantastic Fest. The movie will now open via a virtual cinema offering on May 1.

    Greenwich Entertainment

  • “Uncharted”

    “Uncharted,” the film adaptation of the popular PlayStation video game franchise starring Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, and Antonio Banderas, was unable to begin production in March amid coronavirus concerns. As part of a larger shuffle of Sony’s release slate, the most recent release date for the film was also shifted back from March 2021 to Oct. 8, 2021.

    Getty Images/Naughty Dog

  • “The Climb”

    Sony Pictures Classics’ indie comedy “The Climb,” which played at Sundance this year, was meant to hit theaters March 20 but is now delayed until further notice.

    Sony Pictures Classics

  • “Avatar”

    The sequels to James Cameron’s four “Avatar” sequels delayed shooting in New Zealand indefinitely, according to the film’s producer Jon Landau speaking to the New Zealand Herald. The executive team was to fly to Wellington, NZ on Friday but will remain in Los Angeles due to the coronavirus. Landau said he couldn’t give an answer as to when production would resume and when the local Kiwi crew could get back to work. “If I told you we are going to know something in two weeks I’d be lying. I might not be wrong – even a broken clock is right twice a day. But I would be lying because I don’t know,” Landau said. “We’re in the midst of a global crisis and this is not about the film industry. I think everybody needs to do now whatever we can do, as we say here, to flatten the curve.”

    20th Century Studios

  • “The Personal History of David Copperfield”

    Searchlight Studios was meant to release “Veep” creator Armando Iannucci’s comedic take on the Charles Dickens novel on May 8. No new release date has been set.

    Searchlight Pictures

  • “The Woman in the Window”

    The Amy Adams mystery thriller from director Joe Wright, “The Woman in the Window” was meant to open in theaters on May 15 from 20th Century Studios. No new release date has been set.

    20th Century Studios

  • “Bull”

    The theatrical release of the Annie Silverstein indie drama “Bull” was postponed from its March 20 release and will now open on VOD and digital on May 1. The film has toured the festival circuit since making its debut at Cannes in 2019.

    Samuel Goldwyn Films

  • “Minions: The Rise of Gru”

    The latest “Minions” movie “The Rise of Gru” was postponed from its release date on July 3. Illumination Entertainment’s Paris office was forced to shut down due to the coronavirus, so the film was not able to be finished in time. Universal will release the film on July 2, 2021, a full year after its initial date.


  • “Wonder Woman 1984”

    The sequel to “Wonder Woman” starring Gal Gadot will now hit theaters on Aug. 14 after being pushed back from its June 5 release date.

    Warner Bros.

  • “Scoob!”

    “Scoob!,” the animated prequel film about a young Shaggy and Scooby Doo, was postponed indefinitely from its May 15 release date. No new release date has been set.

    Warner Animation

  • “In the Heights”

    The movie musical based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s stage production “In the Heights” was postponed by Warner Bros. indefinitely from its June 26 release date. No new date has been set.

    Warner Bros.

  • “Malignant”

    “Malignant,” a horror film from director James Wan, was pushed indefinitely from its release date on Aug. 14 to clear the way for “Wonder Woman 1984” to open at the tail end of the summer.

    Getty Images

  • “Peter Rabbit 2,” “Morbius” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”

    In a sweeping overhaul of its release slate, Sony moved three films it had scheduled for release this summer to the first quarter of 2021. The “Peter Rabbit” sequel will now be released in January 2021 while both “Morbius” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” have been moved to next March. 


  • “Greyhound”

    Sony has also moved a WWII drama written by and starring Tom Hanks off of its mid-June release date, though a new date has not yet been set. 


  • “Wicked”

    Universal has removed the movie musical adaptation of “Wicked” from its release slate from its original date on Dec. 22, 2021, and will be redated at a later time. 

    Getty Images

  • “Sing 2”

    Illumination’s “Sing 2” will now open in the place vacated by “Wicked” on Universal’s release slate on Dec. 22, 2021.


  • “Top Gun: Maverick”

    The sequel to the 1985 hit starring Tom Cruise has been pushed back from June 24 to December 23, 2020.


  • “Candyman”

    Universal’s horror film “Candyman” from director Nia DaCosta and produced by Jordan Peele will move from its June 12 release date to Sept. 25, 2020.


  • “Praise This”

    The Will Packer-produced musical comedy “Praise This” about a church choir was delayed from its Sept. 25 release date and will be re-added to the slate by Universal at a later date.

    Photographed by Ian Spanier for TheWrap

  • “The Spongebob Movie: Sponge On The Run”

    Paramount shifted the animated “Spongebob” movie from its release date on May 22 to now open July 31.

    Paramount Pictures

  • “Jungle Cruise”

    With the shift of “Mulan,” Disney moved the release of the Dwayne Johnson adventure comedy “Jungle Cruise” back a full year to July 30, 2021.


  • “Free Guy”

    The Ryan Reynolds video game comedy was meant to open July 3 but will now open Dec. 11.

    20th Century Fox/Disney

  • “The French Dispatch”

    Director Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” moved from July 24, 2020 to Oct. 16, 2020 as part of Disney’s shift of its entire release calendar.

    Searchlight Pictures

  • Untitled Indiana Jones

    The fifth Indiana Jones movie starring Harrison Ford has already shifted its release date in response to Disney’s wave of other release changes. It will now open July 29, 2022.


  • “Nobody”

    Universal’s “Nobody,” a revenge thriller and action movie starring Bob Odenkirk from the writer of “John Wick” and the producers of “Atomic Blonde,” was delayed from its Aug. 14, 2020 release date to now open on Feb. 26, 2021. As a result, an untitled M. Night Shyamalan thriller that was slated for that day is now undated and will be re-added to the calendar later.

    Photograph by Steven Gerlich for TheWrap

  • “Soul” and “Raya and the Last Dragon”

    Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” was moved from its June release date to open on Nov. 20. It’s now opening near where the Disney Animation Studios film “Raya and the Last Dragon” was meant to open. That movie will now debut March 12, 2021. It filled the slot of an unnamed Disney live-action film that has now been removed from the slate.

    Walt Disney Studios/Pixar

  • “Infinite”

    The latest film from director Antoine Fuqua starring Mark Wahlberg, “Infinite,” was pushed back by Paramount from its Aug. 7 release date to now open on Memorial Day weekend, May 28, 2021. The film is currently in post-production, and while “Infinite” wasn’t explicitly pushed back due to the coronavirus, the new date allows the studio more time to ramp up the film’s original intellectual property.

    Getty Images

Release slates for 2021 and beyond are taking shape as studios look to write off summer 2020

As the coronavirus continues to spread, an increasing number of movies are delaying or suspending production. As the number of impacted movies grows, TheWrap felt it would be most informative to keep a running list.

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