So, Hillary Clinton has been campaigning with pneumonia for a bit. Today, she finally gave in to it and had a near-fainting episode, at a remembrance ceremony for 9/11.
Unfortunate, but understandable, and nothing too alarming.
Yet, for most of the day, that is not how it was portrayed. FOX News was first out of the gate, with what actually was the most objective ― and correct ― report.
Correspondent Rick Leventhal merely reported that Secretary Clinton had a “medical episode” and had trouble getting into her car, when she left the ceremony early. Her campaign then said it was due to overheating.
Cue the jackals.
“Hillary Clinton’s health just became a real issue in the presidential campaign,” Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post breathlessly predicted.
Alarms from Politico!
“Hillary Clinton’s health – long the obsession of conspiracy theorists – emerged Sunday as a legitimate campaign issue after Clinton nearly swooned and stumbled at a Sept. 11 commemoration, underscoring the sense that that summer’s sure-thing candidate is teetering at the worst possible moment,” the inside-D.C. paper decreed.
“Nearly swooned and stumbled! Legitimate campaign issue!”
Even the venerable Tom Brokaw got into the act.
Hillary “should Go To A Hospital And See A Neurologist,” said the former anchor of NBC News.
Not even a smiling Hillary Clinton, stepping out of her daughter’s apartment, apparently well, would sate them. The speculation about her health went on and on.
What was Hillary doing? Apparently seeing her doctor, to make sure that they had a very up-to-date diagnosis to give to the press. And that examination led to this statement from her physician.
Yes. It turns out that, for at least a few days, Hillary Clinton has been campaigning with pneumonia.
A 68-year-old woman, with pneumonia, still kept a schedule that most of us wouldn’t make it through, flying here and there, holding multiple events and briefings a day.
That’s not weak. That’s actually strong and tough as hell.
Today, in the sun, which was hot (I live in NY and stood in the sun myself, to see how bad it felt), with layers and possibly a bullet-proof vest, the woman with pneumonia, who hadn’t been resting, as her doctor ordered, felt faint.
Does that make her health a legitimate campaign issue? Not any more than it previously had been.
What this whole episode has proved is that people like Roger Stone and Steve Bannon have gotten into the media’s collective head.
Full disclosure: I’ve traded emails with Roger Stone before. I find him fascinating, because he’s been so successful at the game he plays. For decades, now, he has tossed out wild Clinton conspiracy theories. The media, of course, dismiss them all as crackpot rantings.
He’s been doing it with a purpose - so that when a not-as-crazy conspiracy comes up, or a situation that reporters can concoct into a not-as-crazy conspiracy arises, they bite.
So, for weeks, Roger and Bannon have been pushing the “Hillary is on death’s door” conspiracy. The theories are so out there that even the aforementioned Cillizza rejected them.
Then today happened.
Hillary Clinton had a near-fainting spell ― and one that was easily explainable, once she got to her doctor to be examined.
Not one reporter thought of pneumonia. Not one thought, “Shit, maybe she has a fever.”
Nope. “See a neurologist.” “Her complete health is now an issue.”
Reporters began concocting conspiracies in their own heads. Began saying that the onus was now on Hillary to prove her full health. They didn’t even wait. It was immediate, and in real time.
This isn’t the first time that the press has seen things where there don’t seem to be things, because Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, and others, have them hyper-trained to keep an eye out for those things.
Nothing yet has been found to be seriously wrong with how the Clinton Foundation operates. But after years and years of books and articles pushed by the Stone/Bannon crowd about Clinton corruption, even some mild hint of something based on “optics” and innuendo takes on a life of its own, with the D.C. press.
With this latest episode, I sure as hell hope they got a wake up call. Because today was downright embarrassing for them.
Embarrassing and shameful.
They owe Hillary Clinton a deep, deep apology for unwittingly taking the Stone/Bannon bait, and blowing a situation up into something it was not.
More importantly, they owe an apology to their audiences, who entrust them to give them the facts, not jump the gun and report pure speculation.
Also on HuffPost
How will Donald Trump’s first 100 days impact YOU? Subscribe, choose the community that you most identify with or want to learn more about and we’ll send you the news that matters most once a week throughout Trump’s first 100 days in office. Learn more