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.”
- 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!