On Hillary’s Health, The Post’s Chris Cillizza Flunks Integrity And Bias Tests


I see this a lot: a journalist working for an overwhelmingly liberal-biased news organization who makes a good show of being objective for a while until he or she explodes in an orgy of partisanship. Ethics Waterloo came for the Washington Post’s politics blogger Chris Cillizza yesterday, as his natural urges to defend Hillary Clinton kicked in hard, making him seem foolish and marking him as someone who can’t be trusted to referee this campaign.

Irritatingly, before I could get to this entry Ann Althouse published a piece with the same message: Cillizza’s arguments in “Can we just stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s health now?” sound more panicky than reasoned. His column is especially embarrassing given that Cillizza wrote extensively about John McCain’s health in 2008, and McCain showed nothing in his campaign to raise heightened worries. (Good job, Ed Driscoll, for tracking it down.)

My major concern right now is not Hillary’s health—personally, I’d vote for her over Donald Trump if she were dead—but the news media’s incompetent and biased coverage of an important, legitimate and relevant issue, made more so by Clinton’s conduct and habitual evasiveness. Cillizza’s attitude seems to be a troubling example of how his colleagues are treating the matter, and it is damning—of him, of them.

Allow me to highlight the worst of the free-flowing bias, dishonesty and lack of logic in Cillizza’s column—and, since she did such a good job, I’ll pass along the highlights of the professor’s analysis too…not to appeal to her authority, but to save me time and typing, because BOY am I squeezed today…

  • Cillizza writes that in the aftermath of Clinton’s fall and concussion in 2012, “A certain sector of conservatives were convinced that more was going on with her health than ever became public and that this was yet another example of the Clintons hiding things from the public.”

That sector would be called “anyone who knows anything about the history of how the health problems of politicians, Presidents, athletes, and just about any celebrity who has had them is routinely covered up, minimized, and withheld from the public.” The Clintons are  demonstrably more devious than most, so suspicions were and are even more justifiable.”

(Sure, Chris, only those mean conservatives and Republicans have wondered about this. There aren’t any non-gullible and and non-ignorant Democrats and progressives. Wait—are you sure you want to suggest that?)

  • He writes:

“Let’s start here: Clinton has released a detailed letter from her personal physician attesting to her overall good health — and making specific reference to her 2012 fall…”

Ann knocks this one out of the park, so I’ll defer to her:

1.The doctor’s letter is from July 2015. There could be a new problem.

2. Last week, the media was probing into the credibility of Donald Trump’s doctors. Do we think doctors never lie? And quite aside from lying, they can stretch the truth and frame the facts to favor the interests of their client.

  • Cilliza: “Then there is the fact that Trump himself — age 70! — has not exactly been forthcoming with the details of his own health.”

Ah, so he stoops to the old, “Never mind my candidate, what about YOUR candidate?” deflection. So low, so low.The issue under discussion is Hillary Clinton’s health and the news media’s defensiveness regarding it. Donald Trump’s health  is 100% irrelevant to those issues. The Psot reporter is also—in panic? Desperation? Fear? What?—undermining his own argument! Only conspiracy theorist question Presidential candidates’ candor about their health, and by the way, what is Trump hiding?

Althouse: “Why so hysterical, Mr. Cillizza? What’s he trying to hide? Why is he so sure this is a bad issue? Hypothesis: He’s not. He’s afraid it’s a good issue.”

Excellent hypothesis…

  • More from Chris: “The simple fact is that there is zero evidence that anything is seriously wrong with Clinton.”

To those in the throes of confirmation bias, I suppose that seems like a reasonable statement. Otherwise, it’s absurd. Said Mika Brezinski on “Morning Joe” yesterday: “She’s awesome. Not sick.” That might be the most perfect encapsulation of the logic of bias I’ve ever heard or read.

No, there’s no proof of a serious health problem, but there are definitely incidents and episodes that raise legitimate questions that need answering by the candidate, and, if not, serious and vigorous investigation by  the news media. This is a Washington Post reporter? I’m pretty sure that the Nixon Administration in the wake of allegations about the Watergate cover-up made one or more statements that “The simple fact is that there is zero evidence that the administration engaged in any wrongdoing.” I guess it was time to ” just stop talking about Watergate,” correct, Chris?

There was also, as we were told repeatedly by Clinton and the Corrupted, zero evidence that Hillary breached protocol and mishandled classified information with he secret e-mail server—until there was an investigation.

  • Then: “If suffering an occasional coughing fit is evidence of a major health problem, then 75 percent of the country must have that mystery illness.” Repeated, chronic, coughing fits can be evidence of lots of health problems, however. Hillary is not on camera all day long, and yet many coughing spells have been caught on video. How often does she cough the rest of the time?

I speak for a living, often in three-hour chunks or more. I have taught while suffering from colds and bronchitis. Yes, I have had to pause to cough: no, in almost 20 years, I have never had a two-minute episode when coughing stopped me from continuing. I used to perform professionally, also sick (the show must go on!), and I never had such an episode then, either. It’s not just me. It virtually never happens to any performer: do you know why? It is because performers are getting an extra dose of adrenaline when they are on stage. Actors never sneeze on stage; they don’t throw up on stage either, unless they are seriously ill.  (I was once in a cast that was thoroughly food poisoned: after every scripted exit, an actor used a bucket in the wings to vomit, and then returned to the show as if nothing was wrong.) The same factors are at work with politicians giving speeches. How often have you heard about an official or a candidate having a coughing fit in fromnt of a crowd? I’ve never heard of one.

It is unusual enough that it should raise red flags. Althouse on this:

“The coughing is so prolonged and chronic that it is worrisome. If that were your mother coughing like that, you’d take her to the doctor. We’re not diagnosing her as having something wrong, just observing a symptom and wanting to know: Is something wrong? It’s like Cillizza is playing dumb…Evidence is anything that makes a fact in issue more or less likely to be true. Of course, prolonged, chronic coughing is some evidence of a serious health problem. …and I’m sure Cillizza knows that, so why is he dancing about so insistent on demanding that we see things in an abnormal way? It makes me more suspicious.”

NOW I’ll use Ann as authority: I think a law professor can be trusted to know what evidence is.

Althouse also wonders why Cillizza spends so much of the article complaining that Trump is wasting his time by concentrating on Hillary’s health:

“Who can read the article and think he’s interested in helping Trump? He doesn’t want Trump to lose a moment that could be used hitting Hillary with other issues? Yes, he does…Ugh! You can see how badly the media have squandered their credibility in this election go-round. I can’t believe anything.”

Cillizza provides further proof of his missing integrity and suffocating bias with this:

“Clinton’s botched handling of her private email server, the questions raised by the Clinton Foundation’s foreign donors — these are ripe issues for Trump to make a case against Clinton.”

What about journalists, Chris? Shouldn’t journalists use those matters to make a case against Clinton?

Nah. She’s awesome!

34 thoughts on “On Hillary’s Health, The Post’s Chris Cillizza Flunks Integrity And Bias Tests

  1. It is fair to raise questions about the motive and veracity of the people questioning Secretary Clinton’s health. Especially when things like this happen http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/294708-gingrich-coughs-while-remarking-on-clintons-coughing

    Gingrich explained that he flies a lot and his throat gets dry.

    Do we know of anyone else who flies a lot?

    Could she have health problems? At her age, sure. And if she has high blood pressure or some arthritis or one of the myriad of non-psychological ailments that tend to come with aging, I suppose some people could worry. On a personal level, I wouldn’t. It doesn’t bother me if a president has bad knees or even needs to take some medication. But then I would have been okay with McCain’s cancer. He’s still around and has been doing a pretty hard job (unlike some senators he does do his job.) So unless someone can offer a real problem rather than supposition, I’m inclined to think we should let it drop.

    • So unless someone can offer a real problem rather than supposition, I’m inclined to think we should let it drop.

      This makes, literally, no sense. Did you read the post? 1) Legitimate questions are raised. 2) Answer them. If they are not answered, or ducked, then that is simply more evidence that something is wrong.

      • Jack,
        What, in your mind, would put the issue to bed? Her physician issues a new note? She submits herself to medical examination by an unaffiliated third party? She provides witnesses who can testify her allergies are especially bad in the fall?

        I only ask because Althouse’s arguments (and, by extension yours) against the original doctor’s note could be used to discredit another. “What? This is a MONTH old, who knows what she’s been exposed to since?” / “This doctor can’t be trusted, (s)he’s part of the conspiracy!”

        The other worrying factor in all this is that we’re now creating a bar by which any candidate must actively disprove or at least address any attack. However rational this one may be, it nevertheless adopts all the conspiracy rhetoric. It offers no proof, circumstantial evidence, and no narrative of it’s own. What’s more, when a claim is disproven, the fallback is simply to poke more holes in the official story. Not to mention, my favorite “What are the answers to these problematic questions? We don’t know, there hasn’t been an investigation!”

        I’m not suggesting you or anyone else is a conspiracy theorist for questioning her health, but you’re using similar tactics.

        • I agree, especially since there’s been almost no coverage of Trump’s health despite his much, much more ridiculous doctor’s note.

          • Oh, come on, Chris. Ridiculous? No, it was the best note! In the entire history of Doctor’s Notes, you have not seen a note as great as that note. Believe me. Trump has seen Doctor’s Notes. And, why is it the best note? Not just because it came from the most qualified doctor ever to write a note. More qualified than Obama’s doctor, who might not have even been born here. I’m not saying that, but I have heard that some people have said that. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. But, it was also written about the most phenomenally healthy person to ever run for president. It’s true. William Henry Harrison’s doctor? He got a note, I assume. You want a note like that? His doctor, I’m told, knew nothing, NOTHING about medicine. Nothing. So, what happened? He died. It’s a shame. Abe Lincoln got a good note from his doctor, and he died in office too. What can I say? They were sick people. Sick, sick, sick. They should not have been elected to the Presidency with those health problems. But, what can you do about that now? Nothing. There’s no point.

            Next question.


        • I think giving people a plausible response would be the start. I mean really… To date: She’s denied anything’s wrong, ducked the questions, sent out a doctors note saying everything is OK, and blamed Trump. Not once has she said something like “I have allergies, and they’re getting to me.” You know why? because 1) Hillary never just outright admits anything is going wrong and 2) It would humanise her a little, and she can’t have her T-800 facade crack.

          Would it put the issue to bed? No idea. Probably not. But it’s beyond disingenuous to pretend that Hillary’s done ANYTHING to improve her situation here.

          • Not once has she said something like “I have allergies, and they’re getting to me.” You know why? because 1) Hillary never just outright admits anything is going wrong and 2) It would humanise her a little, and she can’t have her T-800 facade crack.

            Well said, and it’s not the first time Clinton has had trouble providing a perfectly sensible explanation to counter the opposition. When she was grilled over Benghazi, specifically the e-mail she sent Chelsea saying that Ansar al-Sharia was responsible and that it had nothing to do with a video, she could have easily said “We originally thought it was Ansar al-Sharia, but they later denied responsibility, and I changed my opinion after recieving new intelligence.” Instead her response was incoherent.

            Clinton is pretty bad at lying, but sometimes she’s even worse at telling the truth.

      • I’m afraid I can’t accept coughing as evidence without more to go on. I’ve had too many bad coughs especially at the tail end of con crud, a major hazard of travel.

        Jack, if I thought she was sick I’d say so. It’d really be no skin off my nose to admit since I’m not really concerned. If for some reason Tim Kaine has to take over, we’ll get by. Like you, I’d vote a dead candidate over Trump.

        • Funnily enough, one of the main reasons I wouldn’t vote for Trump is that he is dead to me, and I wouldn’t vote for a corpse…

    • Bad knees might explain her needing help walking; if it also consistent with someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, an explanation is warranted. It may also be consistent with someone with an inner ear problem. Again, we should have an explanation.

      Bad knees would likely have little impact on one’s ability to function in the office. A traumatic brain injury, or an inner ear problem (especially if accompanied by dizziness) are a different matter.

      However, if you think I should let it drop and I do, can I still make fun of her if she falls down a lot, just like they do with Gerald Ford?


      • What help walking?


        When Getty Images published their photograph, it was accompanied with a caption explaining that it depicted Clinton being assisted as she had just slipped while walked up stairs in South Carolina:

        Although these photographs were offered as “proof” that Clinton is in such poor health that she needs constant accompaniment while ascending stairs, several photographs of the Democratic presidential nominee ascending and descending stairs without help from anyone are not difficult to find:

        Followed by photos.

        Someone has been binging on right-wing media.

        • What do you mean “someone”? Me? No.

          But you were the one who mentioned bad knees. And, her concussion is a legitimate issue. What would satisfy me on that? A release of the records relating to the treatment of the concussion, with the prognosis, and other follow-up treatments. The statements of the treating physician would be far more persuasive than a doctor hired to clear her for the office. If the treating physician on the concussion stated, for example, that she should fully recover (I know, at that age your brain never “fully” recovers”) within 6 months and should experience little or no related effects after that, I would accept it. I think they would be the most persuasive, but as far as I know, those records have not been made available.

          My bigger concern is the coughing. I only cough like that when the water goes down the wrong pipe.

          It could be that. It could be a recurring cold. It could be pneumonia. It could be tuberculosis.

          The thing is: it appears chronic. And, what is her explanation? She’s allergic to Trump?

          I think it deserves an explanation.

          Now, I will get out of here before Jack head explodes from your reliance on Snopes.


          • That sounds reasoned.

            I disagree on the coughing though. I get coughs like that. With con crud, like I said and at other times. I get coughs for a week or so shortly after the weather turns cold and dries out every year. And I remember one year my grandmother getting a bad cough that lasted a month till I could convince her to see a doctor (the codine cough medicine cleared her up in a few days), she was so stubborn about it. She actually told me, that if the cough didn’t go away then she was ready [to die.]

            Argh, some people. We kept her around for another 8 years after that and it wasn’t a cough that killed her.

            I think you’re reaching with TB. Her aides wouldn’t let her go around spreading consumption. All those August fundraisers, she’s be killing, or at least sickening, the golden goose.

            • I am not reaching with TB. I was just looking at the scope of consistent explanations. But, if she is willing to lie about anything, she is willing to lie about ANYTHING.

              Again, for all I know, it’s smokers cough. I would not hold that against her. But, if she hides anything, I have to assume the worst.

            • You didn’t read the post, or you are foolishly assuming the phenomenon I described in detail isn’t a real one. People don’t get coughing fits on stage, unless something is seriously wrong. Any actor will tell you that.

                • Unfair, valkygrrl! In terms of length of time speaking in public professionally? Yes, actors and politicians — and I’m not sure there is a difference when it comes to public speaking — can either control their breathing or, in this case of repeated instances and no available understudy, get medicated for the problem.

  2. I read the article yesterday and I’m glad you covered it. What an ethics disaster. And I would say to the author, if you want Trump to lose and Hillary to win (which obviously you do), why are you giving Trump these “helpful hints”? Why not lean back and watch Trump waste his time on this issue that no one cares about and only hurts him?

  3. I’m an actor (how I know Jack). I’ve had coughing fits onstage, but there were either health issues or literally inhaling something during a scene at the root cause. I haven’t watched much, but that vid Jack posted was a *long* fit and there was phlegm involved. If she’s got a slight hanging-on-viral-something because she’s run down, then it could be easily explained. The weird thing here is that she isn’t SAYING what’s up and that so many people are acting like out of genuine human concern, asking is inappropriate. I jokingly call myself Momma Becky when I mother people, but Momma Becky really did wonder if she’s getting proper care for whatever it is. I didn’t think as much was worthy of worry when I saw the ‘evidence’ of the ‘seizures’ or whatever they’re talking of. My dad has also been on several meds for long years that cause him to have a chronic cough. So my whole fam knows what his ‘normal’ is and when it’s something else. We’ve listened to Hillary talk in public for a long time, and frankly, this ain’t just normal.

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