In late August, when Hillary Clinton’s health was still an off-limits topic in the mainstream press, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd mocked Republican Donald Trump’s campaign for trying to discuss it.
In a column on MSNBC, Todd and co-authors Mark Murray and Carrie Dann lumped Clinton’s health with other issues in suggesting that Trump was desperate to draw attention away from his own problems.
“He is a quintessential NBC/MSNBC reporter, someone who inserts his opinions into stories on a regular basis.”
The tone was decidedly sarcastic: “It’s time for a special prosecutor to look into the Clinton Foundation! Hillary Clinton has a health problem! Clinton and the Democrats are bad for minority voters!”
They wrote, essentially, that there was nothing to see.
“And the allegations about Clinton’s health are unfounded — in fact, Clinton’s letter from her doctors is much more thorough than Trump’s four-paragraph letter (which begins ‘To Whom My Concern’),” Todd and company wrote. “But you see what the Trump campaign is trying to do: Down in the polls, it’s trying to change the subject back to Clinton.”
At the time the column ran, the Democratic nominee’s health history was not exactly a blank slate. Her husband, Bill Clinton, previously had stated that it took her six months to recover from a concussion following a fall in December 2012. Earlier that year, she cited a blood clot in requesting a delay in her appearance before a congressional committee investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. And Clinton has suffered frequent coughing bouts on the campaign trail.
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By Sunday, after Clinton fainted while making an early exit from a 9/11 memorial ceremony — followed by her campaign’s initial explanation that she became overheated and subsequent admission that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days before — even Todd was forced to acknowledge it was a legitimate issue.
“Of course they should have disclosed this. This isn’t a cold,” Todd said, according to Politico.
Todd ‘Inserts His Opinions into Stories’
To Todd’s critics, the episode represents just another example of his bias.
“He is a quintessential NBC/MSNBC reporter, someone who inserts his opinions into stories on a regular basis,” said Brent Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center.
The Virginia-based organization, which tracks liberal bias in the media, has identified a long list of Todd’s offenses over the years. A sampling of incidents chronicled by the Media Research Center and others includes:
- This month, Todd warned Republicans they could be burned if they go after Clinton too aggressively. “There’s a lot of Republicans who went after the Clintons over the years, who obsessed over going after the Clintons over the years, who basically ended up with egg on their face or they overreached,” he said.
- Last week, on “Morning Joe,” Todd analyzed the Trump effect on the GOP. “It’s anti-intellectualism, that is what’s taken over the party,” he said. “There’s almost a disdain with some in Trump world that are like, ‘Yeah, so the college-educated crowd isn’t for us.’ There is almost a disdain that they’re embracing about this.”
- During the Republican National Convention in July, Todd said Trump’s criticism of Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi attacks that led to the deaths of four Americans was a ploy for “cheap unity” within the party. “Especially today, given what happened this afternoon, [Trump] needs a little cheap unity here, getting things to get everybody unified … It’s sort of lowest common denominator stuff that just, sort of, everybody will give you an applause line for.”
- At the Democratic convention in July, Todd questioned whether Clinton was “being held to an unfair — a different bar” because of her gender. “Some would say its unfair, it’s just a different bar.”
- In June, Todd on”The Today Show” suggested that a report by the State Department’s inspector general scolding Clinton for her mishandling of emails would have been a bigger story if not for Trump. “The last 10 days could have been about nothing but emails, nothing but negatives about Hillary Clinton. We could be talking about Democratic hand-wringing, but there’s Donald Trump. Enough said.”
- In June, Todd appeared on “Today” and took Trump to task for criticizing the judge presiding over a civil suit against Trump University. Todd went beyond the specifics of Trump’s criticism — widely condemned comments about the judge’s ethnicity — and suggested it is dangerous for the executive branch to criticize the judicial branch. “If he did this while in office, it could trigger a constitutional crisis. So it is truly borderline irresponsible behavior, on that front,” he said.
Conservatives Long Leery of Todd
Conservatives have been suspicious of Todd since he took over hosting duties of the venerable “Meet the Press” at the end of 2008. Before journalism, Todd cut his teeth in politics, working in college for the presidential campaign of liberal Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin.
“Some days are better than others,” said Bozell, the Media Research Center founder. “But some days are awful.”
It is not just what Todd has said on the air. In a hot mic incident in 2014, Todd could be heard asking other journalists waiting for a news conference by President Obama if anyone had “checked on” Sen. John McCain of Arizona, after testimony by former Gen. David Patraeus arguing against further intervention in Iraq.
“I’ve got to think McCain must have had heart palpitations,” he joked.
Emails released by WikiLeaks in July show that Todd received an email in May from a staffer at the Democratic National Committee under the header, “Chuck, this must stop.” The email forwarded a complaint from then-DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz complaining about critical comments by “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski.
In a follow-up email, DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda questioned whether setting up a meeting with Brzezinski would do any good. “I don’t know,” Todd responded. “She can do 180s after these calls. It can’t get worse.”
Bozell said he does not find Todd to be an outlier among his peers on the network Sunday news shows.
“He’s like the rest of them,” he said. “Their commentary, the analysis, so often is editorial comments, and those comments always lean to the Left.”