The question: Is there something seriously wrong with Hillary Clinton’s health?
The answer: Based on news reporting, there is absolutely no way for an objective citizen to know.
The so-called right wing media, especially websites and blogs, have been circulating the theory for some time that Clinton exhibits signs of some form of brain damage, either from a fall or a stroke. (You will recall that she had a serious fall and a concussion a few years ago.) Matt Drudge has focused on Clinton’s periodic coughing fits, which, the theory goes, are in part the side effect from anti-seizure medication.
As well-versed as I am in the almost total lack of objectivity within the mainstream media, particularly where Hillary Clinton is involved, I have apparently been programmed by their automatic disdain for “conservative stories” that I have never given this theory any credibility. Surely, surely, no matter how biased they are, legitimate journalists would feel an obligation to investigate something as important as the health of a Presidential candidate. I assumed—I still assume—that this has been investigated. I assumed—and I’m trying to still assume—that if something was wrong, the news media would feel duty-bound to report it.
My confidence is wavering, however. Since mid-July, video snippets have been widely viewed on the web showing Clinton behaving oddly. Some bloggers, notably Mike Cernovich (who is trying to sell a book) found troubling moments during the recent convention and after it. This moment, for example, from an August 4 rally, where Clinton appeared to freeze…
The Secret Service agent who rushes to her side first says “You’ll be OK,” and then “Keep talking.” Observers have speculated that Hillary’s protectors have been briefed and trained on how to handle a seizure.
Then there are these episodes…this, from June (the date on the video is wrong, and the assertion about an “epileptic seizure” is unsubstantiated) where Clinton’s head seemed to come unhinged…
…and this one, from the convention…
I have concluded that they either mean something or nothing at all. How does the public determine which?
Donald Trump has obviously been alerted to these right-wing suspicions, saying recently that Clinton’s brain “short-circuits” and that she isn’t “all there.” Trump issuing this, of course, makes it less likely that rational observers will regard it as anything but typical Trump insults and rumor mongering. We certainly can’t take his statements seriously. So who can we trust?
We can’t trust Clinton because…
…we can’t trust Clinton.
…Democratic Presidential candidates of recent vintage have withheld disqualifying personal information until it was exposed by other. Remember John Edwards?
We can’t trust the conservative news media and blogosphere because…
…They are demonstrably biased against Clinton..
…They will interpret any words, actions or events so as to reflect most negatively on her…
…They regard a Clinton Presidency as an existential cataclysm, and feel obligated to prevent it…
…They have lied, or lazily accepted false information as fact, before…
…Significantly, the most professional of the conservative news media, like the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, have been reluctant to touch this matter.
We can’t trust the mainstream news media because…
…The media has a long tradition of covering up politicians’ health problems and keeping knowledge of them away from the public.
…They have decided to side completely with Clinton and against Trump in this election cycle, manufacturing negative stories about the latter while emphasizing the positive regarding Clinton unless the blatant nature of Clinton’s misrepresentations can’t be whitewashed, as with her e-mail narrative.
…They have established a pattern of burying legitimate news stories or minimizing their importance when they are damaging to Democrats, President Obama or Clinton.
…The DNC e-mail hacks showed the party coordinating news reporting with the media.
…They have refused to aggressively follow-up on suspicious or troubling revelations regarding Democrats and the Obama Administration under circumstances where in the past, the news media has hounded Republicans for months. Example: the Obama ransom payment to Iran.
And then there is Snopes. Out of curiosity only, since the site is no longer to be trusted, I checked to see what, if anything, the now securely left-biased former hoax-identifying website was saying about the issue. They do have a post about it, by one of its new social justice warriors, Dan Evon. It begins with a gag (and lame) headline, “I’m with Seiz-Her.” That’s part of the Snopes MO these days: if it can’t legitimately debunk a story, it signals that the story shouldn’t be taken seriously with headlines like that. Snopes adds nothing to the discussion at all, other than snarky swipes at the conservative media. It also cites the fact that the liberal news media made excuses for Hillary as evidence that there was nothing amiss, as with the bobble-head episode.
“The occurrence depicted above was covered by several news outlets in June 2016, with none of them reporting the candidate had experienced a “seizure.” The Hill, for instance, reported that Clinton “exaggeratedly bob(bed) her head” after reporters repeated the question about Warren, while the New York Daily News wrote that Clinton “gave an exaggerated startled response” to the question. CBS reporter Hannah Chanpong suggested that Clinton movements were simply an exaggerated reaction to her being “startled” when some reporters in her blind spot started suddenly barraging her with questions about her putative vice presidential choice.”
In other words, Snopes regards the liberal-biased media’s applying confirmation bias to conclude there was nothing worth investigating in this episode as indicating that there was nothing worth investigating in this episode! Snopes ends its post with characteristic innuendo:
“Notably, rumors that Clinton was captured on camera undergoing a seizure didn’t start circulating until well over a month later, when they were presented without any evidence beyond uninformed speculation.”
Point? The older video started circulating when more recent episodes caused some observers to start connecting dots. Some of the speculation I’ve read is informed. Snopes last clause is gibberish: the videos are evidence, not the speculation about them. All we have is speculation, because nobody seems to have been looking for more evidence, pro or con, and trying to get straight answers from Clintons about anything is an exercise in futility.
With all of this, Snopes can’t do more than conclude that the Hillary’s susceptibility to seizures is “unproven.”
Clinton herself sparked the renewed focus on her health with her odd use of “shortcircuited” as the verb to explain why she lied about the e-mails—again—on Fox News last week. When I wrote about this, it never occurred to me that she literally meant that her brain malfunctioned, and maybe she didn’t, but that’s what she said. Then some people went back to the video.
Clinton having to deal with a physical problem and periodic cognitive disruptions would explain a lot. Why did she seek to minimize the number of debates? Why has she been so reluctant to have press conferences and interviews? Why is she prone to wild facial expressions? Yet there is no basis for either believing something is wrong with her that might affect her ability to function as POTUS, or not believing it, because we do not have any trustworthy news source that is doing its job, or sufficiently objective to do the job of journalism well even if it wanted to.
The inability of our nation’s journalism to be able to function objectively, competently and fairly in a controversy like this with such obvious importance, is at least as important as the controversy itself. There is no accepted “right to know” any more. The news media, on both poles, believes that the public only has the right to know what journalist and editors think its safe for them to know. As a result, we know very little.