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John Oliver roasts ‘not-a-medical-Dr. Phil’ for his false coronavirus claims

"Last Week Tonight"
John Oliver talks coronavirus and Dr. Phil on “Last Week Tonight.”
(HBO / YouTube)

John Oliver is here to remind you that Dr. Phil’s bizarre comparison of the number of deaths from drowning in swimming pools to those from coronavirus doesn’t hold water.

During Sunday’s quarantined edition of “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver roasted several of his fellow TV hosts, including “not-a-medical-Dr. Phil,” for spreading misinformation amid the public health crisis.

His attack on Phil McGraw — who isn’t a medical doctor but has a PhD in clinical psychology — was in reaction to widely criticized comments the CBS star made last week downplaying the severity of the outbreak.

“The fact of the matter is … 45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 a year from swimming pools, but we don’t shut the country down for that,” McGraw said while appearing on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

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“A quick thing there, though: The annual U.S. death toll from swimming pools isn’t actually 360,000,” Oliver said, setting the record straight on his HBO program. “They’re not killing almost a Cleveland every year. The total number of drownings, period, is around 4,000.”

According to the CDC, swimming accidents account for about 3,600 deaths a year, not 360,000. After his Fox News segment, McGraw addressed his remarks while filming his own show from home, saying, “if you didn’t like my choice of words, I apologize for that.”

“Also, if swimming pools were killing 360,000 people a year, and you could contract a swimming pool on a trip to the grocery store, we might want to think about shutting them down until we’ve worked out what … was going on,” Oliver quipped.

From Jimmy Fallon to John Oliver, late-night TV hosts have taken to YouTube during the coronavirus outbreak — and the results are oddly comforting.

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The watchdog comedian also took several swipes at Fox News for airing misleading commentary on COVID-19 and President Trump’s response to it.

“Look, a lot of people underestimated the danger of this virus early on, but Fox was still doing it not just as the death toll mounted, but even as — behind the scenes — their own company was suspending non-essential business travel and encouraging employees to ‘cancel all in person meetings and summits and conduct business via Skype or by phone,’ because … they only pretend to believe these things on television for money,” he said.

Before signing off, Oliver doubled down on his criticisms of McGraw, Trump and Fox by revisiting a litany of their false claims.

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“The fact is, the fastest way for this to be over is for all of us to remain united in this very difficult task. But the only way that happens is if we have trusted, well-informed leadership, which unfortunately, we don’t,” Oliver said.

“Instead, we have a compulsive liar constantly listening to voices telling him that this is nothing more than the common cold with, potentially, a 100% cure available, and that there’s already a great plan to restart baseball even as there’s a swimming pool killing spree that, for some reason, nobody’s talking about.”


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