C Is for Concussion
Hillary Clinton is in excellent health, so shut up: That’s a summary of the media narrative that emerged last month after Donald Trump questioned whether Mrs. Clinton has “mental and physical stamina.” A Puffington Host headline proposed: “Let’s Call The Conspiracy Theories About Hillary’s Health What They Are.” What are they? You guessed it: “The subtext of the rumors spouted by Trump and his crew of armchair doctors is clear: [Mrs.] Clinton is biologically unfit to lead,” asserted senior reporter Melissa Jeltsen. “She’s a woman, after all.”
As evidence, Jeltsen cites a comment from “forty-six years ago” by Edgar Berman, a retired physician and “close confidant” of Hubert H. Humphrey, to the effect “that women were temperamentally unsuited to hold high office because of their ‘raging hormonal imbalance.’ ” Forty-six years ago, Trump was 24 and Mrs. Clinton was 22. His conspiracy against her has been a long time in the making, hasn’t it?
Two days later, the site published a post by contributor David Seaman, who was more open to theories about Mrs. Clinton’s health. It included a link to a video by Paul Joseph Watson of the conspiracy site Infowars, titled “The Truth About Hillary’s Bizarre Behavior.”
The video strikes this columnist as not credible. It opens, for instance, with a clip of Mrs. Clinton smiling at reporters while wildly bobbing her head up and down. That’s certainly weird behavior, but there is a plausible nonmedical explanation: According to the Washington Post’s David Weigel, the reporters who witnessed the scene “interpreted her exaggerated head-bobbing as a joke at how she’d been suddenly surrounded—and as a successful attempt at ending the scrum.”
But if the Puffington Host was trying to tamp down conspiracy theories, its next move was probably ill-advised. Real Clear Politics reports that Seaman posted a video to YouTube “saying that he was terminated from his job without warning“ and that the post in question (along with another one) was deleted. Sure enough, if you go to Seaman’s archive page, you’ll see the two headlines in question (the first and third ones in the list), but if you click on either, you get a blank page with an “editor’s note”: “This post is no longer available on the Huffington Post [sic].”
The topic must really be taboo if it results in such action from a site that will publish just about anything. And plenty of more-mainstream sites have been denying there is anything wrong with Mrs. Clinton’s health. Weigel’s Post piece was titled “Armed With Junk Science and Old Photos, Critics Question #HillarysHealth.” Similar headlines come from the New Yorker (“The Far Right’s Obsession With Hillary’s Health”) and the Atlantic(“Questions About Hillary’s Health: The Birtherism of 2016”).
Our favorite is a mocking column from the Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh:
In Hillary Clinton’s inner circle, it’s common knowledge that there are times she’s so low-energy that she blanks out for hours. When that happens, she is given to strange mental spells during which she has little or no control over what she says and does. She sometimes mutters things no one can understand.
My colleagues in the mainstream media are covering all this up, but the time has come to speak out. We simply can’t elect a president subject to such mysterious health issues.
What’s that you say?
It’s just that she . . . sleeps at night, like the rest of us.
Trump has said as much too, as Politico notes: