Alessandra Stanley examines the phenomenon of the Michael J. Fox campaign video, featuring the actor visibly afflicted with Parkinson's, which has become the first viral-video sensation of this election season. The video, made in support of Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill's bid for the Senate against incumbent Jim Talent, has had over 1,000,000 views on YouTube and is the top-linked video on Technorati right now. It's also drawn the ire of an apoplectic Rush Limbaugh, who took an undefensible position (blame the victim; doubt his symptoms) and pushed it that much further (suggest he deliberately exacerbated his condition for the camera by forgoing medication which, as it turns out, is the source of the tremors). It's the first in a series of campaign spots featuring Fox, targeting Missouri, Maryland and Wisconsin.
Stanley's weird write-up is jarring in its own right, saying in the first sentence that it's as disturbing as "a hostage video from Iraq" as his body "sways back and forth uncontrollably like a sailor being tossed around in a full-force gale." Less odd than sloppy is her use of a hypothetical "If Mr. Fox did forgo medication..." even though Fox's spokesman confirmed that the tremors were caused by the meds (for a better explanation of why, see Jonathan Cohn at TNR's The Plank, who actually did some research and called a doctor to discuss it). Given that the Plank post was from two days ago, it might have behooved Stanley to more fully delineate why Limbaugh was wrong and misleading and irresponsible in his so-called speculation. That said, WaPo's otherwise informative piece on the matter doesn't address the "medication causes Parkinson's tremors" answer, labelling Limbaugh's comment as "criticism" rather than "an out-and-out smear with no basis in reality." Oh, details.