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Bill Maher is pushing back against blindly following the advice of Anthony Fauci and other doctors amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying, "Don't sit there in your white coat and tell me 'just do what we say.' "
"That's not a criticism of them like they're being corrupt, although there certainly is plenty of corruption in the medical establishment," the "Real Time" host said in an interview with Deadline published Friday, when asked if he believes Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease doctor, or the medical establishment "really know what they are doing."
"But I've always maintained that the big overarching theme should be that people look back and say, 'Oh, look how far we've come medically.' Yes, that's true. We're not putting wooden teeth in our mouth like in the George Washington era, and of course we have antibiotics and lots of vaccines and lots of other things that have been miraculous. But in general, we still don't understand too much about how the human body works," Maher said.
The medical community, the controversial HBO host said, has been wrong "a lot" throughout history.
"They drilled mercury into my teeth when I was a child. Now, of course, we don't do that anymore, but do you really think in 50 years people will look back and say, 'Oh, yeah, we had it all figured out in 2022'? No, they will be appalled at things we're doing right now."
Despite the country seeing more than 860,000 deaths from COVID-19 since 2020, Maher said he was "never scared" of the pandemic.
"I was always scared of the reaction to it, and as this has played out that only proved to be more true for me," he told Deadline.
"It was never that virulent a threat, I thought, to people who were in good health," he continued.
"Now, some people can't help that they're not in good health. We should, of course, protect the vulnerable, but it was mostly a disease of the very old, which every disease is a threat to, and people who have comorbidities, which mostly is due to lifestyle."
Of vaccines, Maher - who tested positive for COVID-19 last May - said, "They just prevent you from dying, which is a great part of it, let's not undercount that. But if they don't prevent you from transmitting it and they don't prevent you from getting it why are we still treating this disease the way we always have?"
COVID-19 has been known to lead to serious illness and death even in younger and middle-aged adults who are otherwise healthy, and studies have shown - and most public health experts agree - that vaccinations greatly reduce the chances of being hospitalized or dying from the coronavirus.
The comedian sounded off on Democrats and Republicans alike in the interview.
Maher said the country is much different than it was when "Real Time" first premiered in 2003.
"I think the politics around me have changed. In other words, the first years George W. Bush was president and the liberal half of the country was, I thought, pretty sane. Now, since about I don't know 2015 or so there's been a real sea change in what's going on, on the left."
Maher knocked Democrats as "the party of no common sense," saying they have "inverted so much of traditional liberalism."
But Maher also took aim at Republicans echoing former President Trump's baseless claim that he was the actual winner of the 2020 election. A December poll from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that nearly three-quarters of Republicans doubted that President Biden's election victory was legitimate.
"Now I always will maintain that the right is the more dangerous faction in this country, especially since they don't believe in elections - I mean you have to keep that in perspective," Maher, 66, said. "One side does not believe in the form of government we have. What do you do about people who are in the government who don't believe in your form of government?"
Calling the peaceful transfer of power the "feather in our cap as America," Maher said, "And now these people on the right have broken that and God knows what's going to happen in the future."
Maher also offered a bleak prediction for the future, saying "the real day of reckoning is going to be between Election Day 2024 and Inauguration Day 2025, because that's when the rubber really hits the road."
Asserting that Trump will "definitely be running" and will become the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, Maher said that similar to 2020, the ex-president will refuse to concede.
"But this next time, he's going to have people in place who will back him up on his lie that he won the election whether he did or not. And then what do you do when those people are much more powerful and there are two claimants to the throne?"
"I mean, we've seen this play out in other countries and it's not pretty," Maher said. "And I don't know what will happen, but it frightens me a great deal."
- Nathaniel Weixel contributed.