In the famous words of Ferris Bueller, “Life comes at you fast,” and you may miss it if you don’t slow down and pay attention.
This was the case for the past week or so with the media-at-large writing off Hillary Clinton’s chronic coughing fits — as well as past head trauma and hospitalizations — as conservative “conspiracy theories” and scare tactics.
All that changed on Sunday when Hillary went full Weekend at Bernie’s while attending the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks at the World Trade Center, and nearly collapsed before being (literally) hauled away in a black van, leaving her bewildered press pool in the dust.
If you haven’t seen the video of Hillary being tossed into her SUV like a tranquilized gazelle, it’s a startling sight. But the more startling aspect to all of this was that, until now, many members of our media were willing to not only write off Hillary’s past and current health concerns, they were actively telling us they weren’t going to write about them at all.
The Washington Post’s resident Baghdad Bob, Chris Cillizza, wrote “Can we just stop talking about Hillary’s health now?” after writing both about John McCain’s health concerns in 2008 and Michelle Bachman’s migraines in 2012. But after video evidence of Hillary’s collapse, years of valid health concerns are no longer “conspiracies,” and Cillizza is now ready to talk about her health again.
Hillary Clinton's health just became a real issue in the presidential campaign https://t.co/Lvr187PaLk
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) September 11, 2016
On the same day that Cillizza wrote off Hillary’s coughing, The Atlantic ran a lengthy piece titled “When Hillary coughs” in which author James Hamblin basically argues “so what.” This was a fun insight:
Special attention may have been warranted if Clinton had lost consciousness during the spell, if she had coughed blood onto the podium, or if she had coughed to the point of becoming so lightheaded that she suggested Mexico will fund construction of a tremendous wall along our southern border.
I don’t say that lightly, but to make the point that a candidate’s health is relevant only insofar as it might influence or allude to their ability to govern. If there were reason to discuss Clinton’s cough, it would traditionally be as a story of resolution and determination—a public servant who refuses to be sidelined by some infirmity.
Clinton has thus far cancelled two appearances this week in California, and has opted to make phone calls from her bed instead. It’s not the first time she has done so.
Andrea Mitchell did what Andrea Mitchell does, tweeting twice about Hillary health conspiracies as a matter of fact from the Clinton campaign.
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) September 12, 2016
In a Reuters post titled “Suffering from pneumonia, Clinton falls ill at 9/11 memorial, cancels California trip”, political reporter Amanda Becker still wrote Clinton’s health off, stating: “Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis follows a wave of conservative conspiracy theories that circulated in recent weeks suggesting that Clinton’s coughing was a sign of deeper problems.”
Except that Clinton’s coughing, confirmed by the campaign itself, was a sign of deeper problems.
Then there was favorite left-wing punching bag Judd Legum, editor at Think Progress, claiming, in regards to early reports of Hillary’s collapse: “Mainstream media sensationalizes incident, embraces Clinton health conspiracy” and linking to a post that stated:
There’s no evidence that Clinton actually fainted, as some news outlets are alleging. A video posted to Twitter, however, does show Clinton stumbling and being helped into her van.
Once again, a media declared conspiracy theory, pushed gleefully by the Clintons turns out to be true. It’s not like they were somehow warned.
To Legum’s credit, he did later own up it with a formal apology, something other journalists writing off years of health concerns about Hillary Clinton as kooky right-wing myths have yet to do.
Stephen Miller is a digital media designer and contributor. He also publishes and produces The Wilderness, which focuses on viral politics and culture media.
TAKE THE POLL