Late Night Tackles coronavirus
April 23, 2020

Jimmy Kimmel started off Wednesday's Kimmel Live with a look at President Trump trying out tree-planting for Earth Day and "some not-great news" about COVID-19. "The director of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield, says there could be a second wave of the virus later this year that might be worse than this one, because it would coincide with flu season," he said. "Basically, he said the next version of the virus could be like The Matrix: Reloaded, just as popular but worse. The good news is, well there is no good news. And we're getting mixed messages from our government. Most experts say stay in your home, but our president says: Go get a tattoo in a bus station."

"As ridiculous as this president is, he's not alone — he got a run for his money from the mayor of Las Vegas," Carolyn Goodman (I), Kimmel said. "Let's put it this way: R Kelly was watching this interview and said: this woman is nuts!" Goodman had a long interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, but "the gist of what she was saying was: Why should we treat this virus any differently from anything else?" he said, showing some of the highlights of the interview, including her rejected offer of Las Vegas residents as a virus control group. "Somehow Las Vegas elected every lady you've ever seen at a Baywatch slot machine to be their mayor," and with 80 percent of the vote.

"Mayor Goodman wants Las Vegas to reopen casinos and let the ones with the most infections then close," and "there's no telling which casino is most at risk, but my money's on Sneezers Palace," Stephen Colbert joked at The Late Show. "Anderson tried to talk some sense into the mayor, but she proved remarkable sense-resistant."

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) also offered up his constituents in sacrifice to the economy, telling Fox News "there are more important things than living." You can watch what Tooning Out the News did with that below. Peter Weber

April 17, 2020

"Last month alone, 22 million Americans have been laid off — and unfortunately, Donald Trump is not one of them," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. Trump's aspiration to reopen the country by May 1 "might be a tad premature, because all the experts agree there needs to be extensive coronavirus testing before people can return to work."

Trump said last week he doesn't think we need to do testing, but the business leaders he named to economic-revival councils Tuesday — sometimes without informing them beforehand — told him otherwise. And Trump isn't the only one eager to restart the economy, regardless of the costs. Angry "pro-Trump protesters" gathered outside the Ohio statehouse and choked the streets of Michigan's capital this week to demand the governors reopen business, Colbert said. The Michigan event especially "had the feel of a free-floating Trump rally. Protesters carried Trump flags, MAGA signs, even Confederate flags — because nothing says 'never surrender' like a Confederate flag."

"And if you're wondering why, specifically, these people are so angry that they would gather and risk extending this pandemic," Jimmy Kimmel said, it's access to lawn fertilizer and hair salons. "The real problem" with making people shelter at home "is you can't make Americans do anything, we just won't," he said. "If you tell us to do something, we won't do it. We only exist because someone tried to make us pay extra for tea once."

The flip side of that is "you just can't make people go to restaurants or stores because you want them to," Late Night's Seth Meyers pointed out. "You gonna have federal agents knock on people's doors and force them to go to the Olive Garden?" In a Politico poll this week, "more than eight in 10 voters, 81 percent, say that Americans should continue to social-distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, even if it means continued damage to the economy," he said. So while "Trump seems intent on reopening the economy by the end of the month, even though he doesn't have the power to do that and public health experts have warned against it," he doesn't have the tools to make that happen.

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah looks at all the coronavirus conspiracy theories — well, not all of them. Watch below. Peter Weber

April 3, 2020

Stephen Colbert spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at the Capitol on Thursday's Late Show, and he asked her why she isn't sheltering at home. "We are really working constantly on to prepare for our next bill but also to make sure that the legislation that was passed and signed by the president on Friday is fully implemented to meet the needs of America's working families," she said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has objected to a new coronavirus package, she added, but "we hope Mitch McConnell will awaken" to the severity of America's economic black hole.

"Are there going to be strings attached" to "the corporate bailout" in the $2.2. trillion bill already signed? Colbert asked. The law, as written, has "very stringent conditions" on industries receiving the money, Pelosi said, but "at the signing ceremony, the president decided to take upon himself to say he wasn't going to acknowledge or obey any of that, and that was most disappointing." She described Trump's "sad and frightening" signing statement as him declaring "he would be the oversight over all of this," and "that's the fight we have."

Pelosi said she introduced legislation Thursday to set up a House committee, modeled on the World War II Truman Committee, to contemporaneously watch that there's no profiteering, waste, fraud, or other abuses in the implementation of the rescue package. When Colbert asked how democracy should work "while we're all staying at home, all quarantining," Pelosi pointed to the $400 million Democrats had already secured for vote-by-mail, said more is needed, and gently chided Trump for warning expanded voting would doom Republican politicians. "Well, I think he should have more confidence in the Republican Party," she said. "Republicans have always been very good about voting by mail, I can tell you that as a former state chair of the California Democratic Party."

Pelosi's advice to America: "Wash your hands, hydrate, pray, and you can never dance too much." Colbert snuck in an off-color joke.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told Seth Meyers on Wednesday's Late Night she would have eliminated the law's $500 billion "slush fund," and while "they put a few strings on it," it isn't enough. "It's better to put some stings on it up front than it is to complain about it afterward, so that's what I'm pushing the secretary of the Treasury to do right now," Warren added. Peter Weber

April 3, 2020

Stephen Colbert said he is, unfortunately, getting used to taping his Late Show from home, but it is the very least he can do during the COVID-19 outbreak. Also unfortunately, Republican governors in 11 states still haven't issued stay-at-home orders, "but some Republicans are coming around," he said, pointing to Florida's Ron DeSantis, persuaded to finally act not by "the data or the scientists" but "Trump's demeanor," and Georgia's Brian Kemp, who said "he's finally going to take coronavirus seriously because some brand new information had come to light."

The information, of course, isn't new. "Everyone knows the virus can spread before people are symptomatic — that's why were social-distancing," Colbert said, showing a clip of the director of the CDC — based in Kemp's state — telling Congress that very thing back in February. "Can you tell how long ago that was? I'll give you a hint: It happened in a room full of people!"

Wisconsin's Democratic governor (and GOP-led legislature) are also not helping, refusing to postpone next Tuesday's election. "Democrats want to remove barriers like this all over the country," Colbert said. "In the recently passed stimulus bill, Nancy Pelosi — my guest tonight — tried to get funding to move the entire country to vote by mail, but that was roundly rejected by the president, and he explained why," telling Fox & Friends the surge in voters would doom Republicans. "Wow, you can't say that out loud!" Colbert said. "You're supposed to pretend that you won the election because people like you."

"It can be hard to know what to discuss on a quarantine show since there's really only one big story that everybody's talking about," Colbert said: "Of course I mean the Netflix documentary Tiger King," centering on "a bizarre former zoo owner named Joe Exotic," with whom "we have managed to secure an exclusive interview. Please welcome, live from Grady County Jail, where he is currently serving 22 years worth of court-ordered social distancing, the Tiger King himself, Joe Exotic." (Or, in this case, Thomas Lennon in a mullet.)

Social distancing is no joke — but you can watch a short cartoon about it below. Peter Weber

April 1, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert on President Trump's coronavirus task force, told CNN on Tuesday that with more than three-quarters of the U.S. on some sort of lockdown, "we're starting to see glimmers that that is actually having some dampening effect" on the spread of COVID-19. "We are continuing to see things go up," he added at a White House briefing. But "the mitigation is actually working and will work."

Not everyone loves living in isolation at home, but Samuel L. Jackson offered some reasons for people to do it anyway. Jackson, who narrated the audiobook of Adam Mansbach's hit non-children's book Go the F--k to Sleep a few years ago, read the topical follow-up, Stay the F--k at Home, for Tuesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live. He may have thrown in some extra profanity, and you can skip to the (safe for work) reading at the 6:10 mark.

Fellow curmudgeon Larry David addressed "the idiots out there" who are "going out" and "socializing too close, it's not good." Look, he said, "you're hurting old people like me — well, not me, I have nothing to do with you, I'll never see you — but let's say other old people who may be your relatives. Who the hell knows?" He suggested people watch TV.

Those of us who can have been "doing this staying-in thing for about two weeks," James Corden said on Tuesday's Late Late Show. "And some of you might be at the point where you're feeling a bit bored" and tempted to go out and socialize, but "please, just keep staying in — I promise you, it's worth it." He explained how you could quickly infect 59,000 people if you go out, and visualized that exponential transmission with dominoes.

"There are a lot of helpful PSAs out there right now on how to handle this current coronavirus crisis," Conan O'Brien said Tuesday. His contribution involved how far apart you need to stand from someone to correctly social-distance. Still, "here's what I'm having difficulty with," he told sidekick Andy Ritchter over video-chat. "I can kind of tell what day it is because we have to make this show, but other than that, without that to hang on to, I would have no idea what day it is."

The Daily Show cast also struggled to discern what day it was — and they were shocked it was still March. Watch below. Peter Weber

March 31, 2020

"For a lot of people, like myself, today began our third week of quarantine," Jimmy Kimmel said Monday night. "And this is where your survival skill start to kick in." President Trump, for example, "took time during this deadly national emergency to brag about the ratings for his press conferences," Kimmel said. "Just because people are watching you doesn't mean it's good. Have you heard of The Masked Singer? Right now half of this country is watching a show about a bunch of toothless meth-heads abusing tigers." Kimmel suggested Netflix and Disney+ team up to create a version of Tiger King the whole family can watch, and he showed how it might be done.

Yes, "Tiger King, this new Netflix series that is somehow even more viral than COVID-19," is "the only story that everybody's talking about right now," Trevor Noah said, after a global coronavirus update. Tiger King protagonist "Joe Exotic is not only one of the weirdest people you will ever meet in your life, he could also be president of the United States," Noah said. "He's self-absorbed, he's disorganized, he's obsessed with conspiracies," and "he loves portraying himself as an expert in his field, when the truth is he has no idea what he's talking about." Noah walked through a point-by-point comparison of Joe Exotic and Trump, concluding that Exotic "might be just as crazy as Trump, but at least if he's in the White House, we're gonna see tigers."

Late Night's Seth Meyers checked in on how Fox News is handling Trump's handling of the outbreak, and he found possible alcohol abuse and stony faces. Trump himself is "laser-focused on the crisis," he deadpanned, reading a tweet about Harry and Meghan. "Where are you getting your celebrity news during the pandemic? I know it's not People magazine, because even People magazine is covering the coronavirus." Meyers also rolled his eyes at Trump's ratings brags: "People are not tuning in because they all love you, they're tuning in because they're trapped inside," and "we're only trapped inside watching you because you kept ignoring the crisis and pretending it would go away, until it was too late."

The Late Show's Stephen Colbert asked guest John Oliver his opinion on Trump's handling of the crisis. "I really hope he turns it around," Oliver said. "I genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, hope that he can pull a rabbit out of a hat, and that rabbit being competence. But I don't think it's safe for any of us to bank on that." Peter Weber

March 27, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases and the lead expert on President Trump's coronavirus task force, has advised six presidents on a series of terrible infectious diseases. He told The Daily Show's Trevor Noah on Thursday that his "worst nightmare" has long been "a respiratory-borne illness that easily spreads from person to person but that has a high degree of morbidity and mortality," and with COVID-19, "it spreads very easily — you can even spread it when you're not symptomatic" — and its mortality rate is 10 times higher than the seasonal flu.

Fauci said people have to weigh the risks of various activities Noah asked about — for example, he doesn't think we "need to get completely obsessed about packages that come in" — but coughing and sneezing are dangerous. The virus spreads mainly through droplets of saliva, including hand contact after a person coughs, but it can also be aerosolized and hang out in the air for a bit.

"You don't want to be obsessive-compulsive about wiping everything down that you go near," Fauci said, but contaminated doorknobs are "one of the real bad actors." He suggested and end to handshakes "for a while" and frequent hand washing, plus keeping six feet of social distancing. "The overwhelming proportion" of COVID-19 patients "are the elderly with underlying disease," like heart or respiratory issues, he added, but young people are far from "invulnerable."

But even if you never get sick, "you have an almost societal, moral responsibility to protect other people" by not spreading the virus, Fauci said, and in terms of how long people will need to shelter in place, "the virus is the clock, Trevor."

"We may be running low on masks, but there are plenty of tinfoil hats to go around right now," Jimmy Kimmel said. "There's a far-right conspiracy circulating that claims Dr. Anthony Fauci has been secretly plotting with Hillary Clinton to destroy the economy and undermine the Trump presidency. That's right — maybe the virus came from Hillary's computer!" He dialed in the likely Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden. Biden said he's baffled by Trump's slow, piecemeal response to the outbreak — "honest to God, Jimmy, I don't know" — asked Trump to steal his coronavirus plan, explained how he's spending his days, and reassured Kimmel that Trump "doesn't have the authority" to postpone the election. Peter Weber

March 26, 2020

The Senate passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue bill with $1,200 checks for Americans and a ban on bailouts for President Trump's businesses, Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's Daily Social Distancing Show. "Just take a second to appreciate how strange it is that lawmakers felt that they needed to write in that the president cannot use this money for himself and his family."

Meanwhile, coronavirus is spreading exponentially in the U.S., especially New York, and "while more and more countries around the world are shutting down to stop coronavirus from spreading ... Trump is preparing for a grand opening" by Easter, Noah said. It's a terrible idea to lift restrictions so soon, but urging people to cram into churches during a pandemic "is basically every supervillain's wet dream," he added. "Trump is like the Joker, just with more makeup."

Trump was already "terrible at Easter," Late Night's Seth Meyers said from his living room, but if his "plan to deal with a very contagious disease is to pack as many people as possible into enclosed spaces, have them touch their faces, and drink out of the same cup," that's straight-up "sociopathic governance."

Trump clearly "cares more about the Dow than saving lives," and now he's "being goaded on in this sadistic plan to put profits over lives by CEOs, economic advisers, and fringe characters on the right who are actually suggesting that it might be worth letting some people die in order to save the economy," he said. "Glenn Beck accused Democrats of wanting to pull the plug on Grammy, and now 10 years later he's saying the stock market's down, Grammy's gotta go."

"Trump desperately wants to protect his beautiful stock market, and he keeps calling himself a 'wartime president,'" Jimmy Kimmel agreed. "Maybe if we call the coronavirus Vietnam, Trump would be okay with people staying home for it." Many of the Americans quarantined at home are "watching Friends, because you can't see your real ones," Kimmel said, and so he checked in with Courteney Cox and had her play Monica-based trivia with Kimmel's Friends-obsessed cousin Anthony.

"Earlier this month, before everyone was wearing masks and gloves, I met a people wearing, well, masks and gloves — furries," Amy Hoggart reported on Wednesday's Full Frontal. "We can learn a lot from people who were forced to social-distance before it was cool." Watch her surprisingly topical dispatch below. Peter Weber

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