The News Media’s Miscalculation on Hillary’s Health

The following is a news media analysis and commentary.[hr]

I watched the video of Hillary Clinton as she faltered, slumped and then apparently got dragged into her van, and I felt awful. Public officials put themselves in the public eye, but to have every step and misstep analyzed the way we do today seems to be a no-win situation. I wouldn’t want someone videotaping me when I had a migraine headache or–as I did several times in my 20’s working in Florida–became faint and dehydrated. I join with many Americans who wish Clinton the best, and a speedy recovery from what her doctors say is a case of pneumonia and dehydration.

Clinton being helped prior to slumping and being pulled into her van. Courtesy: Zdenek Gazda on Twitter
Clinton being helped prior to slumping and being pulled into her van. Courtesy: Zdenek Gazda on Twitter

But the incident raises questions about the news media’s coverage surrounding Clinton’s health. Rather than reporting the facts, many in the media have taken it upon themselves to shout down the questions and to controversialize those asking them. On August 21, 2016, after Trump adviser Rudolph Giuliani suggested people research Clinton’s medical state on Google, a New York Times tech columnist retorted in a tweet:

[quote]“Google should fix this. It shouldn’t give quarter to conspiracy theorists.” Tweet by Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times, 8/21/2016.[/quote]

In other words, the columnist was advocating that a conspiracy be committed to stop people from researching Clinton’s health, which he labeled a conspiracy. Many others in the media also chimed in using the “conspiracy theory” moniker. It’s designed to convince the public to tune out the discussion, in much the same way as other common astroturf terms such as “debunked,” “bonkers,” “tin-foil hat,” “shoddy,” “discredited,” “quack,” “bogus,” “denier,” and “crank.”

Left-wing apparatus Vox chimed in with an article titled: “The bonkers conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton’s health.” The pro-Hillary Clinton smear machine, Media Matters, chided NBC News for “mainstreaming conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health.” Vice picked up the theme writing, “How conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health went mainstream.” CNN published an article “Debunking conspiracy theories” about her health. CNN media critic Brian Stelter urged the media: “Do Not Give Oxygen To ‘Conspiracy Theories’ That Hillary Clinton Is ‘Secretly Ill’.”  HuffPost wrote, “Let’s call the conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health what they are…” ThinkProgress joined in with, “Trump campaign embraces conspiracy theory…” From MSNBC: “Trump, allies push conspiracy theory about Clinton’s health.” NPR: “Trump adds fuel to conspiracy theory about Clinton’s health.” You get the idea. Everybody’s on the same page.

In fact, questions about Clinton’s health, whether grounded or far-fetched, had little to do with supposed conspiracies.

Today, a Washington Post reporter acknowledged that he, too, had recently argued the discussion was “the stuff of conspiracy theorists.” But now, in the face of the obvious, he agrees there are legitimate concerns.

[quote]Coughing, I wrote, is simply not evidence enough of any sort of major illness that Clinton is assumed to be hiding. Neither, of course, is feeling “overheated.” But those two things happening within six days of each other to a candidate who is 68 years old makes talk of Clinton’s health no longer just the stuff of conspiracy theorists.–Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza[/quote]

In other words, all this was “the stuff of conspiracy theorists” until the reporters who appear to have been proven wrong, decided it was not. It’s almost as if we in the media take an editorial position with no factual basis, dare critics to prove us wrong, and then when events do, we modify our stance.

That’s not what the news is supposed to do. Reporters are, ideally, supposed to bring facts to light. If we relegate our role to one of spinning and trying to convince the public of our position; then end up bringing up the rear after-the-fact, what good are we?

Pneumonia is a serious disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year about 50-thousand people in the U.S. die of pneumonia. While successful pneumonia treatment often leads to full recovery, it can have longer term consequences: “worsened exercise ability, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and quality of life for months or years.” How much does it matter? Perhaps not much. After all, any of us could drop dead tomorrow. It will be up to Americans to decide whether this is an issue that matters to their vote. It’s up to the news media to try to get at the facts rather than advance either candidate’s narratives.

[hr]These are some of the themes that will be addressed in a sequel to my NYT Bestseller: Stonewalled

For original reporting, watch Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson

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80 thoughts on “The News Media’s Miscalculation on Hillary’s Health”

    1. Just stop. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about re Parkinson’s and aspiration pneumonia in relation to someone like her.


      A therapist who has treated many Parkinson’ patients

      1. Nsg caring for family member with PD swallowing diff can occur at any stage of PD and be minor or severe since it is caused by the muscles treatable with meds. However the assumption of he Pneumonia being caused by aspiration is plausible

      2. and yer opinion went down the toilet when you stated;” in relation to someone like her”, from a dumb as a box of rox ditch digger

      3. Yeah, because nothing says ‘expert’ like some anonymous clown in their mother’s basement googling Parkinson’s and posting comments on the internet who quite likely is a paid Hillary shill.


        Just Stop

      4. What do you mean, “someone like her”? Do you mean her age? Do you mean her position? Do you mean her … what?

        If the writer has no idea and you do, I would really like to know what you have to say on the subject. There’s no snark intended here: I am curious.

        But by simply telling David Onkels to, in essence, shut up, you have not contributed anything to the conversation. I would appreciate a real contribution from someone with some first-hand knowledge of Parkinson’s and aspiration pneumonia.

    2. I totally agree Hillary has Parkinson’s and everyone is covering it up. She is the anointed one to be in the White House w/ her sicko husband. Nothing will stop them from taking control.

    3. David Onkels.

      Yes, but at this point it’s beside the point.

      I don’t listen to anything the media says. Why would these people tell us the truth now? A half-truth? A partial truth? A mostly lie? Why bother deciphering the lies of liars?

      Does she have pneumonia? How does Attkinsson know? Journalists said so? So now they’ve suddenly stopped gas-lighting their sheep? You can parse the words of liars all you want and you’ll only end up in a hall of mirrors which plays into their hands.

      Hillary’s supporters will still vote for her, make no mistake. “Mendacity” is something they understand, it’s “betrayal” they punish. Hillary’s lies have never hurt her because her character is perfectly reflective of her supporters and her voters, many of whom want to be lied to.

      After all, her most ardent supporters are journalists, actors, other politicians, PR agents, etc, birds of a feather in that culture. They “understand” her lies, and it doesn’t bother such people. The entire issue of Hillary’s health (which is not something recent, but years old) with this culture pretending that nothing is amiss is one of many facets; with a crowd of her followers standing around, pretending to see nothing, while their leader is dragged into a waiting van and whisked away.

  1. Mrs. Clinton asserted she “could not remember” due to a concussion more than three dozen times in the course of her FBI testimony about her secret server and her handling of classified information. What more evidence is needed that her health is compromised?

    1. I believe, understandably so, I hope, that Hillary knew everything that went on during her time as Secretary of State.

      She knew exactly WHY she and Bill should have and use a private mail server.

      They were totally involved with their front, the Clinton Foundation, and could not carry on criminal activities as usual if all Clinton Money & Favor Biz had to be routed through Federal communication channels.

      It was designed to hide, designed to be “easy to use”, not for the duties as Secretary of the State Department, but primarily to facilitate the growing money cow they were milking using her position, influence, connections.

  2. Bravo Sheryl! I do believe you are the only real journalist left. I think our founders had people like you in mind when they wrote freedom of the press into the Constitution.

    1. So did I…until Sharyl started this piece on the basis of emotion and experience as a younger woman. You, Sharyl, ARE a journalist and who deals in facts! THAT’s why I love to read your stuff.

      Emotional reporting is for catastrophes only.

  3. It’s not just a cough and a fainting spell. It’s needing physical assisstance on numerous occasions from a phalanx of body guards to stay upright, and to complete normal tasks such as entering cars and climbing stairs. It’s seeing those body guards carrying syringes at the ready. It’s seeing several videos of her having seizure-like activity and speech difficulty. There is something very wrong with Shillary, and as usual, her camp is doing damage control to hide the truth.

  4. I believe her health to be a serious issue. I believe the people have a right to know if she is physically fit for the job. They same issues were brought up about John McCain. Today, I believed her to be irresponsible by not releasing her records. I believe all candidates should release these records. We, the people, need to know what we are dealing with. She will be one of the oldest to run and possibly be the most powerful person in the world. Great article as always.

  5. Do you have any idea what the metallic object (from the sound it made when hitting the pavement) was that seemed to fall from her pants leg as she was being placed into the car? It is possible that one of her aides dropped it, not her, and it just looked like it came from her pants leg.

  6. While pneumonia may be serious, it’s doesn’t prove the conspiracy-mongers correct, who were armchair-diagnosing Hillary with a wide array of maladies based on out-of-context photos and dishonestly edited videos. Meanwhile, Trump has released no meaningful information about his health, yet Ms. Attkisson shows no interest in criticizing that.

    For someone who presents herself as unbiased, Ms. Attkisson sure loves to judge those who don’t agree with her (convervative) views. Her automatic dismissal of Vox and Media Matters as liberal and/or Hillary mouthpieces doesn’t speak well of someone who claims to do “fearless reporting.” She’s blocked me from following her on Twitter (not exactly the act of a “fearless reporter”) and I’m sure I’ll be blocked after posting this too.

    1. Trump probably should release his health info. But Trump isn’t stumbling, fainting, coughing so hard he cannot speak, pleading forgetfulness 30-some times during an inquiry, telling us he “short-circuted,” traveling with a doctor and several nurses, avoiding press conferences and in general looking and behaving and sounding like he has major health issues. Clinton is.

    2. Christina Carpenter

      Oh, has Trump had to be helped up stairs, helped in and out of vehicles and helped to just stand up? Had coughing fits while speaking and obvious tremors? I missed that. I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask the question, what is going on with Hillary? But if Trump is having medical problems too, agreed we should find out what is up there as well. Unless we are just supposed to be voting for the vice president instead…

    3. By denying that Vox/MM, adn the rest of the Liberal media isn’t perpetually biased, shows your own narrow (far-left) bias, but you’re too far down the rabbithole to recognize the lack of journalistic integrity in America today!

    4. It absolutely does prove the “conspiracy-mongers” correct. Hilliary and the campaigned lied about what was wrong with her. They said it was allergies. Their now admitting it to be pneumonia vindicates all the armchair diagnosticians.

      By the way, Vox and Media Matters are not liberal, they are leftist trash.

    5. ConWebWatch, I suggest that you are so conditioned to biased media that you can’t recognize impartial journalism when it’s presented to you. Had the news media acted professionally in the first place, the “conspiracy-mongers” would have had no case to make. The reason they exist is because institutional journalism is neither reliable nor trustworthy, as evidenced by this case among many others. Sheryl Attkisson should be respected and thanked for her professional integrity because hardly anyone else in journalism has it. The institutional news media lies as easily as politicians do.

  7. This is a clear indictment of our main stream media, which has been firmly in Hillary’s pocket from the beginning and which has subverted this important story for many months, labeling all who espoused any concern with contempt, e.g. Dr. Drew who was fired from CNN, etc., etc… If not for a private cell phone video today disclosing Hillary’s collapse (not a CBS, NBC, FOX, or ABC feed) they would have continued their pathetic deceitful ruse and attack of those concerned with her health. They would have continued marginalizing them as wacko right-wing deplorables or misogynist racists… This whole election cycle has unmasked the utterly despicable MSM for who they truly are.

  8. It is sad (and dangerous for our country) that an honest reporter really stands out as something rare in her profession.

    Sharyl stands out.

    1. There is nothing sad about it. We’ve lived with deceptive media since the dawn of history and the written pictograph.

      Contrary to what journalists tell you, the “Golden Age” of their profession wasn’t one where journalists were more honest or more noble, but when their lies were more easily concealed, less subject to disproof – many Americans, in fact, knew they were habitual liars and fabulists in an age without internet or iphones or even cellphones.

      The truth was that many generations of Americans were more skeptical than their modern progeny – far less credulous of the scribes because such a profession exists without a built-in reality-check. Soldiers died if they operated on lies. Doctors killed patients if they operated on lies. Engineers killed clientele and ruined their companies if they operated on lies. But journalists who operated on lies simply moved onto new lies.

      There has to be a catastrophic cost to lying, such that the consequences bounce back on the liar.

      Years later, that dynamic hasn’t changed.

      The only thing that’s changed is that you have a larger contingent of people who believe that an “algorithm” is some kind of neutral, inhuman arbiter – as if it wasn’t deliberately written, choreographed and manipulated by humans just as were televisions in the 1960s and radio in the 1930s.

  9. Facebook will not let me share this….seems only FB has freedom of the press

    when I try to post it gets caught in a ‘security issue’ I have responded wanting freedom of the press for this reporter

  10. If there is any real journalist left in the mainstream media, someone would have already done an investigative study of the health situation of Hillary. Why do people still think there are still some curiosities about the truth in these so called journalist? They are no longer the arbiter of facts in the US.

    1. I live in Australia & have been following the campaign on Foxtel (pay TV in Australia) & twitter. I noticed a few days ago that a contributor to Huffington Post was ‘terminated’ after he wrote an article on Hillary’s health & then saw another person who was in fear of his life for what he had said. Then today saw that Fox Business were saying three journalists & Dr Drew (who had said negative things about Hillary) were fired. What the hell is happening in the US? I thought it was a free country, was when I visited many years ago.

      1. Good question – Dr. Drew was fired by CNN after he expressed concerns about the medical care that HRC has been receiving based on the little that had been released: prescriptions for various conditions, particularly Coumadin, caused him great alarm. His speculation was based on a medical knowledge most of us peasants don’t have. Then the reporter at HuffPost found out about the public no longer having the right to know anything. If it weren’t for the Internet, Americans would be the most poorly informed people in the world.

  11. Thank you Ms Attkisson for calling for some integrity in the media. Alas, as you personally know too well, it’s too late for that. 94% of Americans believe Political partisans infest the “news” business and no longer “report”, but instead, preach their preferred narratives.

    A tourist took yesterday’s video of Clinton collapsing. The “news” people obediently didn’t. Good riddance modern American “journalists”.

  12. There are a number of follow up questions on the pneumonia story that need to be asked. 1. What type of pneumonia is it? 2.Why wasn’t she hospitalized when it was diagnosed? 3. After she fainted why wasn’t she taken to a hospital?4. Was she given the pneumonia vaccine beforehand? Those questions need to be asked because the public has a right to know the answers.

  13. This scares the bejebus out of me. On one hand we have Hillary who may or may not be suffering from a physical condition. On the other hand we have Donald who may or may not be suffering from a psychological condition. Help us Obi Wan Kanobi!

    But seriously, every reporter would do us a great service by reporting the news rather than dissecting, stirring, whipping and roasting it to serve their constituency. That’s why I like Sharyl. She gives it to us raw and organic.

  14. Sharyl Attkisson is about the only true investigative journalists in this country. Whether it be from the left or right, she always looks at an issue based on facts. I have the highest respect for her and I always look forward to reading her reports because I know that it will be honest and without any slant. “Thank You” Sharly Attkisson for what you do. Some of us in America still appreciate honest journalism.

  15. I’m an engineer not a Dortor but I’ve never heard of someone being diagnosed with pneumonia without having an X-ray. Reports said that her Dr examined her at her house and determined she had pneumonia then prescribed antibiotics. This doesn’t sound credible. Did Ms Clinton have an X-ray or other diagnostic tests? Did she go to a hospital or Dr’s office last Friday? If she didn’t then I think further questions about her condition are in order.

  16. Clearly there is a conspiracy—of the media, piling on with the same message. We saw this conspiracy in action the day after Trump’s acceptance speech, when the conspirators unanimously labeled it “dark.” Conspiracy hiding in plain sight.

  17. Sharyl,

    Do not fall into the trap of believing what you are being told by the Clinton team.
    No one knows for sure (other than her Dr & inner circle) what is wrong with Mrs. Clinton.
    Why comment on pneumonia ? Comment on: Is pneumonia contagious ? Yep. So, why was she in public ? Especially since she is prone to coughing jags ? Why did she put that little girl at risk ?

    Where the heck are all the investigative reporters ?

  18. When the MSM starts covering her rather obvious Parkinson’s disease, then all hell will really break loose–if she hasn’t left the race by then. Has anyone in the MSM pointed out the telltale blue sunglasses she was wearing? On a cloudy day??!!

  19. Wish everyone would drop the term “main stream media”. It is an official department of administration called the Ministry of Propaganda.

  20. Speaking of conspiracy theories, how did this citizen get that close to a presidential candidate and not get any reaction from the Secret Service members at arm’s reach from him? The cover story was that she ‘slipped the press’ and yet here’s a guy with a sophisticated camera with a direct shot at Clinton and nobody cares? And about that remarkable recovery less than two hours later? Out on the sidewalk hugging a kid with nary a cough? Smiling and waving. We’re being played. By whom and what for time will tell.

  21. I found an interesting Wikileaks email dated 2011-10-24 from Jake Sullivan to Clinton re the drug Provigil. He provides some background on Provigil and its uses, including “It is also often prescribed to treat excessive sleepiness in patients with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.” It’s a curious email in that it doesn’t look to be about a political issue on the drug, but more like what an email that I would get from someone if I was asking them if they knew anything about a prescription that my doctor would be recommending.

  22. There are some other parts to the equation

    – She’s brought her personal physician to be at her side for the ceremony

    -The physician is seen having Hillary stop , face her and squeeze her hand well before they get
    to the street…. potentially a test for stroke

    –The scene in front of Chelsey’s apartment is clearly staged where the child runs up to her. The secret service would never let this happen if it were not staged for any number of reasons including the chance that the child had a bomb vest.

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