With questions about Hillary's health permeating much of the fringe media over the past month, if mostly absent from the mainstream coverage, yesterday's not one but two dramatic coughing fits by Hillary, promptly blamed on Cleveland's pollen levels (we showed earlier that Cleveland pollen was actually moderate, and is absent from the inside of a hermetically sealed airplane), led to another frenzy of inquiries: what exactly is wrong with her?
It also led to a furious response by the Clinton campaign at an unwitting recipient: NBC News, which "dared" to cover the story (even if, as we first reported, MSNBC ultimately cut its live feed of Clinton's Cleveland coughing fit).
As The Hill first wrote, NBC News is "facing harsh criticism" from Hillary Clinton's campaign and her supporters for publishing one article on the Democratic presidential nominee's coughing fit. Lest there be any confusion, the 91-word report, had virtually no commentary aside from reporting the facts, which included her quote that she is "allergic to Donald Trump." This is all that it said:
Hillary Clinton struggled to fight back a coughing fit while campaigning in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday.
"I've been talking so much," Clinton said with a hoarse voice. "Every time I think about Trump, I get allergic."
The former secretary of state has suffered from coughing fits at times throughout the Democratic presidential primary.
However the frog in Clinton's throat on Monday was one of the most aggressive she's had during her 2016 run and left her almost unable to finish her remarks.
After the event, campaign aides attributed it to allergies.
In other words, Hillary's campaign was angry at NBC for reporting what millions of people saw on live TV, or in other words, the facts. However, in this particular case, the facts were less than palatable to Clinton's campaign and supports who promptly attacked if not the message then the messnger. Clinton traveling press secretary, Nick Merrill, slammed the report on Twitter, writing to Rafferty, “get a life.”
Get a life.
— Nick Merrill (@NickMerrill) September 6, 2016
Obama's former speechwriter Jon Favreau did likewise, asking, “Is there anyone at NBC, or anywhere else, who's willing to defend this story?”
Is there anyone at NBC, or anywhere else, who's willing to defend this story? https://t.co/cJ4pNRBTsR
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) September 6, 2016
Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), described questions about Clinton's health as "idiotic" in an ABC News interview.
The surreal crackdown on reporting hit when none other than Joan Walsh, former Salon editor, slammed CNN for also covering the "coughing attack", saying this is how "right wing smears get into the MSM bloodstream"...
... before she was promptly reminded that she herself did the exact same "smearing" with John McCain's health in 2008.
Yet ironically, it was Ari Melber - an anchor for MSNBC anchor, a channel which has been firmly in Hillary's camp - who called it "one of the worst coughing fits" he had ever seen, something which prevented Hillary's entourage from accusing the GOP of creating yet another vast right wing conspiracy. Even more ironic, Fox News, which also covered the press conference live, cut away from the live coverage aboard the plane as a result.
But while the Clinton campaign was bashing NBC for bringing the public's attention to what may be a legitimate health issue, Trump was criticizing the media for not covering Hillary Clinton's coughing fit.
"Mainstream media never covered Hillary's massive 'hacking' or coughing attack, yet it is #1 trending," the GOP presidential nominee tweeted Tuesday. "What's up?"
Mainstream media never covered Hillary’s massive “hacking”
or coughing attack, yet it is #1 trending. What’s up?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2016
While mainstream media may not have covered it - except for the abovementioned 91-word crticized report on NBC - social media was on fire with a discussion over Hillary's health, where #HackingHillary became the top Twitter trend in the country following the incident. The hashtag was also trending on Facebook and was at the top in the politics category as of Tuesday morning.
Ultimately, the media frenzy culminated in an article written by the WaPo's Chris Cilizza who concluded that "the questions about Hillary Clinton's health are absurd"...
... a statement which could pass for absurd judging by the Clinton campaign's furious response to demonize any member of the mainstream who dares to even bring them up.
In itself, the article could have been simply ignored, but what was more troubling is that in his conclusion, the author advocates doing what he has accused Trump himself of doing: engaging in press censorship, and ignoring an issue which is clearly very relevant to tens of millions of Americans, namely the health of their potential future president. To wit:
Beyond the Clinton conspiracy theorists who believe she had something to do with Vince Foster's death and that she was secretly responsible for everything from Y2K to the SpaceX explosion last week, it's hard to plausibly insist, based on the available data, that Clinton is ill. Aside from the doctor's note, she keeps a very rigorous schedule for a 68-year-old — traveling all over the country to raise money and campaign. (For the past month, she's done a lot more raising money than campaigning.)
To believe that something is seriously wrong with Clinton, you have to a) assume her doctor lied and b) that her coughing, which often happens when someone catches a cold or spends a lot of time speaking publicly, is a symptom of her deeper, hidden illness.
* * *
The simple fact is that there is zero evidence that anything is seriously wrong with Clinton. If suffering an occasional coughing fit is evidence of a major health problem, then 75 percent of the country must have that mystery illness. And I am one of them.
What Trump cannot — or, at least, should not — do is continue to engage with these wacky theories that emerge out of the fever swamps on the very fringe of the conservative movement. Every single person who believes in the Clinton health conspiracy is already for Trump. What he needs to do is find ways to reach voters who have doubts about him but may carry even graver doubts about Clinton's ability to do the job in an honest and transparent way.
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. Every second he or his surrogates spend talking about Clinton's health is a lost moment for his campaign. And with 63 days left until the election, he simply can't afford that.
To be sure, if the Clinton's campaign has its way and manages to shame anyone from the mainstream into suppressing any future coverage of Hillary's health and upcoming coughing fits - whether due to allergies or otherwise - it would be the functional equivalent of censorship, or allowing the media organizations, and their corporate shareholders, to determine what the general public should or should not know.
Oh, and speaking of shaming Chris, some of us remember:
Peak hypocricy aside, the best resolution to the "Hillary health issue" at this point is to avoid any future coughing fits (due to pollen... inside a sealed airplane) or any other unexplained health emergencies. With 63 days until November 8, it shouldn't be too difficult, unless there just happens to be a problem, which has been the issue all along.