Newsweek ran a piece attacking The Five‘s Greg Gutfeld for claiming President Donald Trump would cure coronavirus, evidently failing to recognize that the Fox News host was joking.
On Wednesday, Gutfeld said that Trump would "probably cure the coronavirus and make China pay for it" if impeachment proceedings continue. The joke triggered an explainer piece in Newsweek on the deadly virus: "Fox News' Greg Gutfeld Claims Trump's Impeachment Has Made Him More ‘Effective,' Says He Could ‘Probably Cure The Coronavirus.'"
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Gutfeld mocked the website for its clickbait coverage.
"We live in a time where it pays for some sites to treat jokes seriously, or else they wouldn't have a story to write. There's no story in ‘Greg told a joke,' but there is one if you take a joke literally," Gutfeld told the Washington Free Beacon in an email.
Gutfeld, a self-described satirist and humorist, frequently peppers his commentary with jokes that are not intended to be taken seriously. In the same monologue, he compared the media to "the bitter ex-spouse whispering bad things to the kids about the other parent" and "a T-shirt cannon, [they] can shoot those messages to you at home and call it an honest day’s work."
Newsweek took the joke-filled segment seriously enough that it "reached out to Fox News for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication." The magazine also tied Gutfeld's joke to comments made by Trump during a Tuesday speech claiming his administration will "achieve new breakthroughs in science and medicine, finding new cures for childhood cancer and ending the AIDS epidemic."
Once a respected mainstream outlet, Newsweek has received criticism in recent years for embracing a more clickbait-driven strategy to escape its financial woes and making embarrassing errors as a result. Writer Jonathan Alter declared "The Death of Newsweek" in 2018, lamenting that the outlet was "a painful embarrassment to anyone who toiled there in its golden age."