Bill Maher defends calling coronavirus 'Chinese virus,' mocks Ted Lieu

HBO's Bill MaherWilliam (Bill) MaherCarville repeats prediction that Trump will drop out of race Juan Williams: Time for boldness from Biden Maher presses Bolton for not backing Biden: How could he 'be worse' than Trump? MORE on Friday defended calling the novel coronavirus the "Chinese virus," arguing that "pretty liberal" scientists "have been naming diseases after the places they came from for a very long time."

The remarks from the "Real Time" host come after President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE had repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the "Chinese virus" but stopped doing so late last month.

"Scientists, who are generally pretty liberal, have been naming diseases after the places they came from for a very long time," Maher said Friday night while broadcasting his weekly show from his home in California.

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"Zika is from the Zika Forest, Ebola from the Ebola River, hantavirus the Hantan River," he added. "There’s the West Nile virus and Guinea worm and Rocky Mountain spotted fever and, of course, the Spanish flu."

"MERS stands for Middle East respiratory syndrome," the host continued. "It’s plastered all over airports, and no one blogs about it. So why should China get a pass?"

Maher proceeded to respond to a tweet by Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuMilley confirms soldiers deployed to DC amid unrest were given bayonets Trump campaign touts 4M online viewers for Tulsa rally Trump mocked for low attendance at rally MORE (D-Calif.), who criticized Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarHouse Republicans urge White House to support TSA giving travelers temperature checks OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower cites Trump tweets as impetus for California emissions probe | Democrats set July vote for major conservation bill, blaming Republicans for delay | Trump vows crackdown on monument vandalism Democrats set July vote for major conservation bill, blaming Republicans for delay MORE (R-Ariz.) for calling the coronavirus "the Wuhan Virus" on March 8.

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"No, that would be way stupider because it didn’t come from Milan," said Maher. "And if it did, I guarantee we’d be calling it the Milan virus. Jesus f---ing Christ. Can’t we even have a pandemic without getting offended? When they named Lyme disease after a town in Connecticut, the locals didn’t get all ticked off?"

"This is about facts. It’s about life and death. We’re barely four months into this pandemic, and the wet markets in China — the ones where exotic animals are sold and consumed — are already starting to reopen," he later added.

"Sorry, Americans. We're going to have to ask you to keep two ideas in your head at the same time: This has nothing to do with Asian Americans, and it has everything to do with China," Maher concluded. "We can't afford the luxury anymore of nonjudginess towards a country with habits that kill millions of people everywhere because this isn't the first time. SARS came from China and the bird flu and the Hong Kong flu, the Asian flu. Viruses come from China just like shortstops come from the Dominican Republic. If they were selling nuclear suitcases at these wet markets, would we be so nonjudgmental?"

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Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSunday shows - Spotlight shifts to reopening schools US testing official: 'Dr. Fauci is not 100 percent right' Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet MORE, the nation's top infectious disease expert and leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, called on wet markets to be closed earlier this month because of the threat they pose.

They "should shut down those things right away," Fauci told "Fox & Friends." "It just boggles my mind that when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface that we don’t just shut it down."

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham says he will call Mueller to testify before Senate panel about Russia probe Romney blasts Trump's Stone commutation: 'Historic corruption' Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE (R-S.C.) has also called for wet markets to be closed, calling their existence "crazy and dangerous."

“Bringing wild and exotic animals to open markets to interact with humans and other food supplies is both crazy and dangerous,” Graham tweeted earlier this month. “Hope my Republican and Democratic Senate colleagues will sign onto my letter to the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. urging the immediate closure of these wet markets for the safety of the world at large.”

The U.S. death toll stands at 18,780, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with cases surpassing the 500,000 mark as testing continues to escalate.