The media’s ‘health concern’ hypocrisy


CNN’s Chris Cillizza is concerned that Fox News is talking about Joe Biden’s health.

Even partisanship should have its limits. And one of those limits should be raising entirely unfounded questions about a presidential candidate’s health. Which is exactly what two Fox News personalities — Kennedy and Sean Hannity — have done, according to this terrific piece by the Daily Beast Justin Baragona

He’s referring to an article published Monday which notes that Sean Hannity and host on Fox Business have separately raised the question of Biden’s health over the past month:

The Biden rumor-mongering seemingly began May 29, during the broadcast of Fox News’ afternoon gabfest The Five. While assessing Biden’s candidacy, Kennedy claimed to know Democratic operatives engaged in a whisper campaign about Biden’s health.

“He is much more like Hillary Clinton, because if you talk to Democrats, who are working for different campaigns, all of the aggressive gossip whisperers—and this is where the action is happening in terms of opposition research—it’s people having a few drinks at a bar and whispering, ‘You know there is something wrong with the former vice president,’” she claimed. “But that’s what they are actively doing right now. And it is surprising because they are concerned with taking Biden down and getting their candidate out there.”…

In the news business, it is considered irresponsible to spread baseless, potentially damaging rumors about public figures. Even Fox News briefly suspended Judge Andrew Napolitano in early 2017 after he made the unfounded claim on-air that British officials helped President Obama spy on the Trump campaign. Beyond news personalities, the American Medical Association considers it wholly unethical for physicians to speculate on public officials’ health without having personally examined them.

Did you catch that? News outlets are not supposed to speculate about candidates health. It’s wrong even for physicians to do so if they haven’t personally examined a public official. CNN’s Brian Stelter, who is also amplifying this message, has the reaction from the Biden camp:

No place in public discourse? Well, if that’s true, I wonder what CNN has to say about this, i.e. elected Democrats planning to hold a meeting with Yale’s Dr. Brandy Lee to question Trump’s mental health. Dr. Lee, who has never personally examined the president, has already done this once last year at the National Press Club. She also been rebuked by the American Psychiatric Association for speculating in public about a non-patient. And yet, Rep. John Yarmuth is helping to organize this new event. Surely, CNN and the Daily Beast are aghast at all of this.

Not exactly. Last March the Daily Beast published a piece titled, “How Close Is Donald Trump to a Psychiatric Breakdown?” That was actually a follow up to an earlier piece from October of 2017 titled, “These 27 Top Shrinks Think Trump Might Be Nuts.” A sample:

The psychiatrists argue that objectively observable evidence of mental impairment is no different from physical infirmity, as far as meeting the intentions of the 25th amendment. They have sent their statement of alarm about President Trump’s mental stability to every senator and House member, urging they act to form an independent expert panel to evaluate the president. Simultaneously, 27 representatives, all Democrats, have co-sponsored a bill to establish a “commission on presidential capacity,” including four psychiatrists, which would give Congress the authority to declare a president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

What about CNN? Well, here’s Brian Stelter raising the topic of Trump’s mental stability for four minutes back in August 2017.

And here he is raising it again in January 2018:

And here he is amplifying the same signal two days ago:

Notice that the setup in these clips above is very similar to what Kennedy was doing on Fox News, i.e. other people are talking about this off-the-air so it’s a story we should talk about. CNN doesn’t seem to have a problem with that so long as it’s left-wing authors or Democrats raising the issue. But when it appears on Fox News or comes from Trump himself (with regard toBiden) suddenly we’ve crossed a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

Finally, I’ve seen a couple people claiming that this is part of a GOP playbook going back to Hillary in 2016. I’d just like to remind people with short memories that progressives did this against John McCain back in 2008:

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