“Real Time” host Bill Maher returned from his holiday break Friday and took aim at liberals for their responses to and handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Along the way, the HBO host commented on U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NBA player Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Maher kicked off the show’s panel discussion by listing all the COVID restrictions the United Kingdom is lifting from mask mandates to vaccine passports, saying “They’re getting back to normal, we should follow this.”
U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., argued the U.S. has been “gradually transitioning to normal” and touted the Biden administration rollout of the vaccine, but Substack journalist Bari Weiss said she’s “done with COVID.”
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“We were told you get the vaccine, you get the vaccine and you get back to normal. And we haven’t gotten back to normal. And it’s ridiculous at this point,” Weiss said. “I know that so many of my liberal and progressive friends are with me on this and they do not want to say it out loud because they are scared to be called anti-vaxxed or to be called science denial or to be smeared as a Trumper.
“I’m sorry,” she continued, “but if you believe the science, you will look at the data that we did not have two years ago and you will find out that cloth masks do not do anything. You will realize that you can show your vaccine passport at a restaurant and still be asymptomatic in carrying Omicron. And you realize, most importantly, that this will be remembered by the younger generation as a catastrophic moral crime.”
“We were told you get the vaccine, you get the vaccine and you get back to normal. And we haven’t gotten back to normal. And it’s ridiculous at this point.”
Weiss pointed to the recently announced “indefinite” virtual learning at schools in Flint, Michigan, and the growing self-harm among young girls, arguing “that is why we need to end” the lockdowns and declaring it a “pandemic of bureaucracy.”
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Torres pushed back, stressing the major death toll COVID had on Americans, particularly in New York City where he’s from.
“Most New Yorkers saw a level of death and suffering we’ve never seen in our lives and that’s the source of the concern about COVID,” Torres said. “I mean, I reject the notion that the response to COVID has been worse than the disease itself.”
“I reject the notion that the response to COVID has been worse than the disease itself.”
Maher cited the number of COVID deaths by states per 100,000 people, highlighting Mississippi, New Jersey and New York among “the worst,” asking “could there be two states more unlike” than West Virginia and Massachusetts, which ranked No. 10 and 11.
‘The atmosphere is just different’
He then pointed to Florida, which he called the “poster boy for keeping s— open,” which ranked at No. 17, and concluded, “So, New York and New Jersey did worse than Florida.”
“New York and New Jersey did worse than Florida.”
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“We did worse because we’re a densely populated hub of international travel,” Torres defended his home state.
“Florida is home to all the old people in America,” Maher shot back. “I was just in Florida. I’ve been there a few times since this started. The atmosphere is just different. I’m not moving to Florida. I’m not promoting Florida. I’m just saying AOC just went to Florida and had a good time without a mask on. … The atmosphere was just night and day from California, which was gloomy and the Andromeda strain was out there. And you went to Florida and I’m just saying- yes, there are different factors… but basically, they stayed open and went on with life and didn’t do a helluva lot worse and maybe did better.”
“AOC just went to Florida and had a good time without a mask on. … The atmosphere was just night and day from California, which was gloomy.”
The HBO star pivoted to vaccines, pointing out how they don’t prevent disease or the spread of the disease as they were previously advertised but can help prevent death from COVID. Those facts, he says, “counteracts” the argument that vaccines “protect other people.”
‘Nothing to do with science’
“This is I think where Democrats look bad. Like, ‘We’re the people of science’ and then a lot of what they do has nothing to do with science like suggesting you wear masks outside. There’s no science to that,” Maher said. “Or that the virus can get me when I’m walking in a restaurant but not when I’m sitting down. There’s so much mindless bureaucracy! [NBA star] Kyrie Irving can play on the road but not home games!’ That- it’s just stupid!”
“Kyrie Irving can play on the road but not home games! … It’s just stupid!”
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He then pivoted to the recent Supreme Court hearing that challenged the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate and how Justice Sonia Sotomayor made wild assertions about COVID, like claiming over “100,000” children were currently in serious condition at hospitals with the disease and that COVID was a “blood-born virus.”
“They were all listening to NPR,” Weiss quipped.
“Exactly,” Maher replied. “I mean, that’s really ignorant for a Supreme Court justice. So don’t be the ‘We’re the people who believe in science,’ but you don’t have the facts! I read this before, like 41% of Democrats last year thought that over 50% of people who got COVID were hospitalized. It was less than 1%.”
“That’s really ignorant for a Supreme Court justice. So don’t be the ‘We’re the people who believe in science,’ but you don’t have the facts!”
“But I’m sorry, if you’re watching cable news all day, right? That’s what you’re gonna think,” Weiss said. “There is misinformation and not just on podcasts and the internet. It’s also on cable news. I think the biggest thing to me about the Democrats is… the Democrats is supposed to be the party of the little guy… You know what the Democrats are now comfortable with, or seemingly comfortable with? A two-tiered system in which the haves get to go into a restaurant, laugh with their friends for hours and the people serving them are masked and wearing gloves. Where they get to walk, as AOC did, at the Met Gala while in the background the staff looked like they were in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ I mean, this is, this is a look that is unbelievably detrimental to them.”
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“And jobs,” Maher added. “The people with, you know, the consulting jobs, whatever bulls— they do, they get to say at home and order the food out and do s— by Zoom and whereas the working-class people who are breathing their s—-y air all day. It’s going to create class resentment. I mean, it looks like the liberals are always suggesting sacrifices they themselves don’t have to take part in.”