How the media failed America with the #HillarysHealth story

The biggest, immediate loser out of the Hillary Clinton collapse episode is the American political press. However this changes the polls or even the outcome of the presidential election is still anyone’s guess. But how the media handled the story is obvious and the repercussions could be immediate.


Let’s zoom out to the biggest issue encompassing the way the media has handled the question of Hillary’s health over the past several months. Any report, speculation or question regarding the health of the Democratic Party’s candidate for president was met with derision, mockery and shame. This, despite the fact, that Clinton has clearly been plagued with a lingering cough ever since the early days of her campaign in Iowa.

And it kept happening.


In April, the Washington Post condemned the focus on her cough as an “obsession” of “conservative media.”

This is typical of coverage by right-leaning news outlets whenever Clinton suffers an on-camera coughing spell, as she has on several occasions in this campaign. The recurring headline might as well be “Hillary Clinton has a coughing problem — just sayin’.”

In light of this weekend’s events and the Clinton Campaign’s reluctant admission (if you believe them) that Clinton is suffering from pneumonia, is it not fair to ask the mainstream media “why weren’t you more persistent in asking questions about Clinton’s health?”

Of course.

But, despite the appearance of mea culpas from the likes of Chris Cillizza who just last week chastised his colleagues (all from right-leaning outlets) for daring to ask questions about the ongoing coughing fits of the nominee. After a video captured the harrowing moment when Clinton collapsed while prematurely leaving the 9/11 event, Cillizza wrote on the same pages of the Washington Post that now, in his determination, these questions were legitimate.


Only now, because Cillizza says so.

And there in lies the problem. What fact-based source was motivating journalists for the past several months to not only ignore the questions regarding Clinton’s health, but, to aggressively and publicly shame and humiliate any reporter writing about their observations that, perhaps, Clinton was not the picture of health?  The good word of the Clinton campaign and the candidate, herself.

That’s right, the candidate with the lowest trustworthy ranking of any modern presidential candidate. The person known to skirt the truth if not lie outright on any issue that might make her or her husband look bad gave her own personal assurance to reporters that her health was fine.

And that was enough for them.

They even joined in the candidate’s staged event on the Jimmy Kimmel show to mock anyone daring to question her health. They loved the moment she opened a pickle jar to prove how healthy she was:

To prove their point, they pointed to every extreme outlet they could (Alex Jones, the National Enquirer) to lump everyone into one tidy bundle. If you questioned her health, you’re a conspiracy theorist.

This despite the fact that respected doctors like Dr. Drew Pinsky raised serious, educated questions about Mrs. Clinton’s health:

Pinsky saw his CNNHN show cancelled within days of this interview on KABC radio in Los Angeles, but the network claims there was no connection.


And let’s also look at the case of David Martosko of the Daily Mail. He reported late last week that Clinton appeared “low energy” on the campaign trail.

Now we know that this was the very same day Clinton was allegedly diagnosed to have pneumonia. In retrospect, Martosko appears to be the most insightful, observant and curious reporter covering the campaign.

So, how did his colleagues and the Clinton campaign respond to him at the time?

She’s from Reuters.

He’s Clinton’s travelling press secretary.

He works for the Democratic National Committee.

And on and on it went.

Even in light of Sunday’s collapse, the media continued to report statements and spin from the Clinton campaign as if it were objective fact.

Fox News’ Rick Leventhal had the story first and he had two law enforcement sources describing exactly what the world ended up seeing on video several hours later:


Add to that the contemporaneous reporting from members of the press pool assigned to follow Clinton at all times. They reported via Twitter that they had been kept in the dark and were barred from leaving the 9/11 event as Clinton was hurried away:

So as of 10:15 AM there was a story. Fox News had two (count them, TWO) sources confirming the episode, it was confirmed that Clinton left abruptly and in the middle of the ceremony and the press pool was confirming that they had been blocked from leaving and were kept in the dark by the campaign as to the candidate’s whereabouts.

That, right there, is a story.

And yet, with all of those objective facts at their disposal, most of the media stayed silent on the topic:


When did the media finally begin to report the story? When they had a statement from the Clinton campaign:

You see, until the media had Clinton’s spin, it wasn’t a story.

But now we know that the “overheated” spin was, to be generous, not the complete story. To be factual, it was a lie.

The “overheated” excuse was delivered to a hungry and desperate mainstream media before any video of Mrs. Clinton collapsing was widely available. If the campaign knew the video existed, I doubt they would have trotted out the “overheated” story.

So pundits and reporters spent the next hour talking about how hot and humid it was in New York during the 9/11 ceremony. MSNBC even remarked that Clinton was wearing long sleeves so that must have exacerbated the heat for her. Never mind the fact that every other politician was dressed in business attire (suits and ties for the men, obviously) and none of them were overcome by the stifling heat and humidity. In fact, a quick search on at the time the “overheated” excuse was floated showed a rather mild day in New York City.



But that didn’t stop journalists from reporting that Clinton had been overcome by heat. What was their source on this? The Clinton campaign. And why would they lie?

Only later did the Clinton campaign finally release a new statement claiming Hillary was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday and that was the cause of her collapse.  Immediately the media the “she became overheated” story and and ran with the “she has pneumonia” version. And what is their source for that information?  You guessed it, the Clinton campaign.

See a pattern developing here?

Should we believe the report from her campaign that she has pneumonia as fact?  I don’t think so. Not without asking more questions and getting some independent verification. Why?  Well, according to Clinton’s doctor, the pneumonia was brought on by post nasal drip which was triggered from her allergies which led to a horrible coughing attack.  You know, the coughing attacks that the “conservative media” was mocked and publicly shamed over asking questions about just last week.

So, last week: Don’t you dare ask questions about that cough. This week: Apparently that was a pretty bad cough, it gave her pneumonia!

She may have pneumonia, but just because her campaign says she has it doesn’t make it an objective fact.

Just like the campaign’s claim that Mrs. Clinton had turned over all of her work related emails, that she never sent or received classified material on her private server, that her use of a private, non-secure server for work-related, government email was permitted, that she only used one device for her email that… well, you get the picture.


In other words, just because Mrs. Clinton and her campaign make some kind of claim, perhaps, at this juncture, more sources are called for. And maybe journalists, even if they’re conservative, should be allowed to ask questions, be curious and not just take a campaign flack’s spin as if it’s fact.

Maybe it’s me, but I thought that’s what a political reporter was supposed to do.

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