Late-night hosts respond to the politicization of wearing masks and a personal Twitter attack from the president
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah examined the escalating “corona mask wars” since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidelines to encourage people to wear a mask in public. “Now, this all seems reasonable enough, right? Everyone just needs to wear a mask when you’re gonna be outside around other people,” said Noah. “But apparently, it’s the furthest thing from simple.” Outlets across the country reported this weekend on people refusing to wear masks, in some cases threatening store employees who attempted to enforce the order.
“Why are people so angry?” asked Noah. “Forget a vaccine, scientists need to start working on a chill pill. Health officials are asking for us to cover our faces to protect ourselves, and everyone is acting like they have to get spayed and neutered. And the people who don’t wear masks are ruining it for everyone.”
“If we know that masks can help save lives and stop the spread of coronavirus, why are so many people refusing to wear masks when they go out in public?” Noah continued. First, he conceded, they’re not very comfortable. Which is why a woman in Kentucky went viral for wearing a mask … with holes cut into it for her nose and mouth to make it “easier to breathe”.
“I think some people are missing the point of the mask: it’s not about conforming, it’s about safety,” Noah explained. “Can you imagine if people brought this attitude to sex? ‘Don’t worry, babe, of course, I used a condom. I just ripped the top off because it was really uncomfortable for my penis and made it look like it was robbing a bank. But we’re good! We’re totally safe.”
Ultimately, Noah continued, the mask failure comes from the top: last week, Mike Pence refused to wear a mask at the Mayo Clinic despite an explicit policy to do so, and this week, Donald Trump visited a mask-making factory barefaced. Both incidents have given license to people who have adopted not wearing a mask as a political position.
“Look, I don’t even understand how a public health issue like wearing a mask became so politicized,” Noah concluded. “But it is really weird to me that so many of these people who refuse to wear masks claim to be proud patriots who would do anything for their country. Because right now, America is at war with the coronavirus. And if you’re going out in public without wearing a mask, well then, you’re fighting for the other side.”
“When Trump said as the weather gets warmer [coronavirus] would miraculously go away, I didn’t know he meant our response,” said Stephen Colbert on the Late Show about news that the White House is allegedly winding down the coronavirus taskforce, even as cases are projected to rise in the US. (The White House stated this morning the taskforce will continue “indefinitely”.) Still, the taskforce’s prognosis is murky, Colbert continued, because the administration reportedly planned the taskforce’s “gradual demise” might “never be formally announced”.
“So … we might not ever really know what happened to the group that was supposed to let us know what was really happening? How will we find out? Do we need a coronavirus faskforce taskforce?
“Basically, it looks like Trump’s going to try to declare victory over the coronavirus before the election, and if that’s true, he’s going to want to go down to the basement of the White House and dig out a gently used banner. But he’s gonna want to make one small change,” said Colbert over the photo of an amended banner: “Transmission Accomplished.”
“It seems really doubtful that we can reopen the economy this soon and keep the disaster under control,” Colbert continued. “But of course, anyone who’s seen Donald Trump knows he always wants to have his cake and grope it too, because even though Trump made a big deal about releasing his own social distancing guidelines, he now shows no problem with states that ignore them.”
Some, such as New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, have said the implicit question behind Trump’s decision to dangerously relax physical distancing guidelines and shutdowns is “how much is human life worth?” In a press conference, Cuomo criticized Trump’s plan and asserted human life as “priceless”.
Cuomo’s words, said Colbert, at least offered a “refreshing contrast to Trump’s position: a human life is worth about one trip to Buffalo Wild Wings”.
And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel addressed a personal attack from Trump, who on Tuesday tweeted congratulations to Fox News host Greg Gutfeld for ratings which “beat no talent Stephen Colbert, nice guy Jimmy Fallon, and wacko ‘last placer’ Jimmy Kimmel”.
“I hope he wasn’t talking about me!” Kimmel deadpanned. “I think this may be another typo situation. I think what he meant to tweet was: ‘I am completely devastated by the loss of life caused by this insidious virus. My thoughts are with the families of those who have passed. I pledge to spend every waking moment working to make sure our medical workers have the support they need and every American has access to tests. PS - congrats to Greg Gutfeld!’
“That’s better, right? He does seem to be familiar with all the late-night shows – I’ve heard that if you snort enough Adderall, you can watch four of them at once.”