Many in the media have declared merely questioning the health of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is off-limits — to the point where doing so can be a career-jeopardizing move.
David Seamon said over the weekend that he has been barred as a contributor to The Huffington Post for suggesting that Clinton’s health could be an issue. He said the website also deleted two articles he had written.
“The irony in all this is Trump is much more accessible to the media than Hillary.”
“It’s chilling. I still haven’t really absorbed it,” he said in a video posted Sunday.
Two articles still appear on Seamon’s author page at the liberal news site: “Hillary Clinton’s Health Is Superb (Aside From Seizures, Lesions, Adrenaline Pens),” and “Donald Trump Challenges Hillary Clinton To Health Records Duel.” Click on either, however, and the reader gets a message that the articles are no longer available.
Seamon noted that #hillaryshealth has trended on Twitter, and he added that he linked to a YouTube video uploaded by a user named Paul Watson purporting to show Clinton suffering some sort of muscle spasm. Seamon said it has been viewed 3.5 million times.
“So, it was a very newsworthy thing for me to link out,” he said. “People are talking about it. That hashtag has been quite popular.”
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The Huffington Post’s decision to cut ties with Seamon comes on the heels of CNN’s announcement that it is parting ways with Dr. Drew Pinsky, an on-air presence for the last six years on radio and Headline News. The move came days after Pinsky expressed concerns, based on Clinton’s released medical records, that she is getting substandard health care.
Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center, told LifeZette that Pinsky’s departure comes as longtime host Nancy Grace is also leaving the channel. So it is not clear that the move against Pinsky was tied to his comments about Clinton’s health as opposed to a general rebranding effort.
But Graham pointed to a number of media reports questioning Republican Donald Trump’s mental stability and psychological makeup as evidence of clear bias in the coverage. Large, mainstream news sites have suggested that Trump is a narcissist and may have other psychiatric flaws. Some have questioned whether Trump’s election would put the nation at risk of nuclear war.
“They don’t have a leg to stand on being disgusted by [the raising of the] Hillary health issue,” he said.
Neither current major-party candidate has released detailed medical records to the public, opting instead on letters from their physicians declaring them healthy, with only limited information. Sen. John McCain, by contrast, released 1,173 pages of medical records when he ran for president in 2008. Trump on Sunday proposed that both campaigns take similar steps to make detailed records available to the public.
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While much of the press declares Clinton’s health an off-limits topic, they treat questions about Trump’s health as fair game. An interview that Trump’s doctor gave to NBC News last week blew up on Twitter, with journalists and the general public alike questioning whether the physician’s over-the-top assessment of Trump’s fitness is reliable.
Conservative watchdogs like the Media Research Center are not the only ones to notice the double standard. Mediaite, a news and opinion blog about the media run by liberal legal commentator Dan Abrams, published an article noting that CNN ran a pair of “breaking news” taglines literally minutes apart. One referred to “debunked Clinton health claims,” while the other sated that the letter from Trump’s doctor had drawn “scrutiny.”
Alex Griswold wrote in Mediaite that the evidence that Dr. Harold Bornstein’s description of Trump’s health is untrustworthy comes down to the fact that his hair is “weird” and that his letter contained grammatical errors and “Trump-like hyperbole.”
Griswold wrote that he does not believe theories that Clinton suffered serious brain damage during a fall in 2012. But he added that questions about the health of anyone aspiring to be president are legitimate.
“So the claims about Hillary Clinton’s health are ‘debunked,’ as CNN put it, only by virtue of that letter from her physician,” he wrote. “But when Trump released a similar letter, his received an immense and unprecedented amount of scrutiny.”
Some see a larger trend of media bias at work. The New York Times this month published a front-page story quoting reporters as saying that the normal rules of balance do not apply in covering Trump because he is uniquely dangerous. Vox founder Ezra Klein wrote that journalists are comfortable treating Trump like an “alien.”
Critics also point out that the auto-complete function on Google searches suggests options like “health reform” and “healthcare reform” and “health care plan” when a user types “Hillary Clinton health.” Microsoft’s Bing search engine, meanwhile, offers “issues,” “problems,” and “rumors” as suggestions.
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Over the weekend, CNN edited a Trump tweet, shown to viewers of “State of the Union.” Viewers saw: “I think that both candidates, Hillary and myself, should release detailed medical records. I have no problem in doing so! Hillary?”
The actual tweet read: “I think that both candidates, Crooked Hillary and myself, should release detailed medical records. I have no problem in doing so! Hillary?”
Without explanation, CNN scrubbed Trump’s patented nickname for Clinton — “Crooked” —from the tweet.
“The irony in all this is Trump is much more accessible to the media than Hillary,” said Graham, of the Media Research Center.