- The Washington Times - Monday, February 27, 2017

Comedian Bill Maher says the news media needs to “get serious” about winning back the public’s trust amid the Trump administration’s effort to paint them as the enemy.

On Friday’s episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the late-night host praised some prominent journalists, including George Stephanopoulos and Chuck Todd, for getting tough with the new administration, but he pointed out a Fox News poll that shows they still have a lot of work to do.

“Polls show that the public finds the news media less trustworthy than Donald Trump,” Mr. Maher said. “They have to fight to get their reputation back.

“For the press to be effective, these numbers have to change,” he continued. “Can you imagine how this must make a reporter feel, to be losing a truthfulness contest to Donald Trump? It’s like losing a rap battle to Mitt Romney.”

Mr. Maher sparked outrage last week after conducting a friendly interview with former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who resigned from the publication just days later after a conservative group recirculated a 2016 interview where he argued that sex between adults in their 20s and 13-year-old children happens “perfectly consensually.”

Mr. Maher, who staunchly defended having Mr. Yiannopoulos on his show before the video resurfaced, later took credit for the conservative’s downfall. On Friday’s show, the comedian said it wasn’t fair that he was criticized for giving Mr. Yiannopoulos a voice when the media have been doing that for President Trump for two years.

“You can be mad at me for giving a platform to Milo, but Donald Trump is the apotheosis of the alt-right and the media gave him the biggest platform ever,” Mr. Maher said. “They covered every Trump rally like we put a game show host on the moon. They made him look like he was president before he was. Even during the primaries, Trump got three times the coverage of the entire rest of the field.”

“Guys, for the sake of the republic, you got to get serious again. You have to win your respect back, so Trump can’t say ‘The people don’t believe you, you’re a joke,’” he said. “The news media lost trust because they became eyeball-chasing clickbait whores who bumped the story about climate change for the ones about grizzly bears in the Jacuzzi.”

Mr. Maher argued that the news business should stop being about profits and go back to being a public service.

“CBS News is 3 percent of CBS’ revenue, CNN, 4 percent of Time Warner’s. ABC and NBC News are only 1-and-a-half percent of Disney and Comcast,” he said. “Guys, take one for the team. It’s not that much. It’ll pay off in the long run, you know why? Because the best customers are alive.”

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