Politics

Mainstream Media Pushes Clinton Health Conspiracy Theory?

| by Michael Allen
Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was giving a speech in Cleveland on Sept. 4 when she paused to cough and blamed it on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"Every time I think about Trump, I get allergic," Clinton joked.

Clinton's speech included much more, but some mainstream media outlets focused on her cough, which has been pushed as a sign of ill health by conservative websites for months.

Andrew Rafferty of NBC News reported on Sept. 4 that Clinton "struggled to fight back a coughing fit," and "has suffered from coughing fits at times throughout the Democratic presidential primary."

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Rafferty described Clinton's most recent coughing fit as "one of the most aggressive she's had during her 2016 run and left her almost unable to finish her remarks."

Daniella Diaz at CNN wrote: "Clinton has dealt with coughing fits before, but Monday's [was] among the most disruptive. She previously coughed excessively during a February 17 speech about race, in Harlem, New York, and in an earlier Iowa address, on January 25, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines."

Donna Halper, an associate professor of Communication and Media Studies at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, spoke to Think Progress about the Clinton health conspiracy theories in August:

Right now what you’re seeing on the right -- and it’s really pernicious, but it’s really effective in the right-wing echo chamber -- is the belief that Hillary Clinton isn’t healthy. It’s being spread by right-wing blogs, it’s being spread by the National Enquirer -- where it’s a front page story -- it’s being spread by memes, it’s being spread by doctored images that Sean Hannity put out there, and by Donald Trump: "Oh, well she doesn’t have the stamina!"

According to Think Progress, the effort to discredit Clinton's health began back in 2014 when former Bush advisor Karl Rove speculated about Clinton’s brief hospitalization in 2012 for a blood clot.

Numerous conspiracy theories about Clinton's health started popping up on conservative news outlets such as The Drudge Report, The Blaze (Glenn Beck), Gateway Pundit (Jim Hoft), InfoWars.com (Alex Jones), Fox News, and Breitbart News, whose former head, Steve Bannon, is now CEO of the Trump campaign.

Trump has questioned Clinton's health and stamina, and spokesperson Katrina Pierson diagnosed Clinton with dysphasia, a form of brain damage, in August.

Televangelist Pat Robertson also joined the rumor mill in August, and there was also a new health conspiracy theory launched about Clinton's stools.

Sources: NBC News, CNNThink Progress / Photo credit: Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons

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