Hillary Clinton On Death Bed!

How the media spins Clinton while ignoring Trump.


Published:

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

The mainstream media has been nigh-on hysterical since Hillary Clinton nearly fainted at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City on Sunday after becoming dehydrated.

Pundits and reporters were already in high hand-wringing mode from the speech Clinton had given 36 hours earlier at a huge, star-studded LGBT gala in New York City on Friday night. In her speech Clinton referred to half of Republican opponent Donald Trump’s supporters – the "racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic" people many of us have encountered on social media and who attend Trump’s rallies with Confederate flags and "Trump That Bitch" T-shirts – as an "irredeemable" "basket of deplorables."

The speech was enthusiastically received at the gala by the pro-Clinton LGBT crowd which can be heard laughing and cheering when she makes the statement. The event, attended by various LGBT and queer-friendly luminaries like designers Isaac Mizrahi, Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg, DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile, actors Debra Messing, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Laverne Cox, Michael Urie and Cynthia Nixon among other notables, was hosted by Barbra Streisand. The iconic singer performed a revised version of "Send in the Clowns" directed at Trump. The new lyrics included this: "Is he that rich? Maybe he’s poor. Until we see his taxes, we can’t be sure. Who is this clown?"

                                           DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile


Prior to her "deplorables" line, Clinton had been talking about the dangers of a Trump presidency, from the threat to overturn marriage equality to the unsettling thought of several Trump appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court and what that would mean long-term for LGBT people. It’s clear from the crowd’s response – they had paid more than $1,200 to attend the fundraiser for Clinton and the DNC and downticket Democrats – was alarmed by the prospect of Trump and his legendarily homophobic VP nominee Mike Pence in the White House.

As well they should have been.

While Clinton was talking at the Democratic gala, Trump and Pence were attending the 2016 Values Voter Summit in Washington. It was the first time a Republican nominee for president has attended the controversial Values Voter Summit since its inception in 2006. In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney submitted a video for the group. But in 2008, neither Arizona Sen. John McCain nor his VP nominee, Gov. Sarah Palin, attended the event.

The VVS is notoriously anti-LGBT and sponsored by some of the most ostentatiously homophobic groups and individuals in America, like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Dr. James Dobson. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists the FRC as a hate group and notes, "Tony Perkins heads the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT hate group located in Washington, D.C. Perkins has a sordid political history, having once purchased Klansman David Duke’s mailing list for use in a Louisiana political campaign he was managing. In 2001, Perkins gave a speech to a Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group."

Perkins is very much one of those in Clinton’s "basket of deplorables," along with Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson. As SPLC notes, "The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as ‘the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power, but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians."

Not surprisingly, Trump and Pence, speaking at VVS 2016 (an actual hate-fueled event) made no headlines. But Clinton, calling out the kind of hate that fuels that event? It was the lead story everywhere.

Outside the realm of Hillary supporters, her "basket of deplorables" speech was compared to then-Sen. Obama’s "clinging to their Bibles and guns" speech in 2008 about Pennsylvania voters and GOP nominee Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2012 "47 percent" speech about Obama supporters.

Clinton walked back the generalization but not the comments in a statement about 24 hours after her speech with a statement delivered via social media:

While the "deplorables" speech was the only issue for the media, Mike Pence reminded us of why Trump chose him: They share the same philosophies. Asked about former KKK leader David Duke's support of the Trump-Pence campaign and whether or not Duke was deplorable, Pence said he didn't approve of name-calling. (Trump does it daily.)

"But I'm also not going to validate the language Hillary Clinton used to describe the American people," Pence said on Tuesday. "She was talking about people across this country who are coming out in record numbers to stand by Donald Trump in record numbers."

Yet Pence has no trouble calling out LGBT people and has said gay marriage was responsible for "societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.” Pence also called being gay a choice and said keeping gays from marrying was not discrimination, but an enforcement of “God’s idea.”

Most LGBT people would find that deplorable.

Clinton responded to Pence's refusal to call out Duke, "If you won't say the KKK is deplorable, you have no business running the country."

Then came the fainting.

How could Clinton stay away from the 9/11 Memorial when she had been at Ground Zero on Sept. 12, 2001 as a senator from New York?

It was hot in New York on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and Clinton was wearing a long sleeved jacket. She purportedly doesn’t drink enough water according to staff in an effort to avoid bathroom breaks during rallies. The official word from her doctor after Clinton was seen being helped into a waiting SUV and nearly falling was that she was dehydrated.

A few hours after being whisked away from the 9/11 Memorial, Clinton emerged from daughter Chelsea’s apartment seemingly fine, talking to reporters – although not about her health–and then having a conversation with a little girl. The photo op showed Clinton at her seeming best.

Then the campaign released the information that Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday and instead of cancelling that LGBT gala and several other events and foregoing the 9/11 Memorial, Clinton did what so many women do when they are sick and soldiered on–right up until she nearly fainted at the 9/11 service.

In the ensuing time since, a dozen or more hashtags signaling Clinton being on her death bed have sprung up on Twitter as have a plethora of memes with the same message. As the hype grew, Chief International Correspondent for CNN Christiane Amanpour queried, "Can’t a girl have a sick day or two?"

Amanpour, one of the best known women journalists in the world, has covered myriad heads of state as well as several wars from the front lines and is only a decade younger than Clinton. Few women know better the rigors of political life like she does. Amanpour noted there was a long tradition of presidents and presidents-to-be masking their health issues. She wanted to know why Clinton was being held to a different standard. Again.

"Surely this can't be a case of a human being having an off day," Amanpour said sarcastically. "No, like so many things Hillary, the media are having a field day. Off to the races with another debilitating case of indignant outrage. This must be another typical Clinton conspiracy to fool them with a total transparency breakdown."

Right-wing media, which has already been working in tandem with Trump’s rhetoric that Clinton "doesn’t look presidential" and "has no stamina" (she does more public events than Trump does and is the most traveled Secretary of State in U.S. history), had that "field day" Amanpour spoke of. Rush Limbaugh suggested Clinton had a seizure (the video of her faltering at the curb on her way to the car looks nothing like a seizure). Fox News pundit Brian Kilmeade asserted Clinton could – and should – be replaced as the Democratic nominee, something that has never been done before. He suggested Joe Biden, who has served as VP throughout the Obama Administration despite a history of brain aneurysms and who is seven years older than Clinton. Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report speculated that Clinton was dying. Right wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones who is an advisor to the Trump campaign and who has been pushing the theory that Clinton has Parkinson’s Disease (she doesn’t) on his InfoWars podcast claimed Clinton was actually already dead.

On Twitter, hashtags claiming Clinton was indeed dying if not already dead abounded. One hashtag – #HillarysBodyDouble – asserted that Clinton was actually dead and a body double was filling in for her to steal the election, which Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have both claimed is "rigged," despite there being no evidence that the first woman nominee in 240 years of American presidential history had somehow managed to rig both the primary and the general election in 50 states, Washington, D.C. and all the territories.

Facts contravene the right wing GOP narrative. In the week where Clinton made her "deplorables" comment and nearly fainted because she was doing her job despite having pneumonia, which actually makes her heroic, not weak, Trump fielded some extraordinary controversies of his own.

Or would have had the mainstream media not been hyper-focused for over a year on any tiny stumble of Clinton’s over massive drama of Trump’s.

Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald did a cover-story exposé of Trump’s conflicts of interest as a businessman should he become president and how they would threaten national security. David Farenthold of the Washington Post did a massive investigation of the Trump Foundation: "How Donald Trump retooled his charity to spend other people’s money." Farenthold’s genius piece, which we’ve been watching him work on for months on Twitter because he’s engaged people in the process, even reveals how Trump spent $20,000 of donor money on a self-portrait–illegally. But more importantly than that one event is how Trump used the Foundation as a bait-and-switch in which donors ended up funding Trump and his family.

But, screamed the headlines, Clinton fainted. Even Anderson Cooper, conducting an interview with Clinton on Sept. 12, seemed irritated with the candidate that she hadn’t revealed her diagnosis, to which Clinton replied, "I just didn’t think it was going to be that big a deal. ... It’s just the kind of thing that, if it happens to you, and you’re a busy, active person, you keep moving forward."

Should Clinton have announced she had pneumonia? Hard to say. Given the hyper-focus on her health as a diversionary tactic from Trump’s actual issues, probably yes. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s most recent campaign manager, told CNN on Sept. 13 that Clinton owed the American people the truth, but then demurred with regard to her own candidate.

                                                                    Kellyanne Conway/Gage Skidmore Flickr


In an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Conway said, "I don’t know why we need such extensive medical reporting when we all have a right to privacy." Mitchell had queried the lack of medical information on Trump, citing a brief letter the candidate’s doctor had released in December which many medical professionals have questioned as it noted Trump would be the healthiest candidate in presidential history. Hard to imagine the 70 year old, much overweight Trump with his penchant for fast food would be healthier than say, President Obama, who is 15 years younger, athletic and quite fit.

While Conway seemed to think her candidate deserved privacy, she was irate over Clinton’s failure to reveal her pneumonia diagnosis.

"Why in the world did Hillary Clinton lie to everyone and conceal such an important fact for two days? Saying she was overheated and dehydrated and then of course hours and hours later after her health had become the biggest trending story of the day not the 9/11 fallen. Why wait all those hours?" Conway said.

In fact, Clinton was back out on the sidewalk in front of daughter Chelsea’s apartment within a few hours of leaving the 9/11 Memorial. And if the attention of the media was diverted to Clinton from those who were murdered on 9/11, that was the fault of the media and no one else.

Conway ended her confused and confusing interview with Mitchell saying "So I agree with you it’s an important issue. And I think that there’s one candidate in this race who has had recent health challenges," she added, referring to Clinton.

Well, maybe. The reality is we have no information whatsoever about Trump’s health. His doctor – who by his own admission has not treated Trump in some years and "wrote the letter in five minutes" – doesn’t seem to know much about Trump’s health and revealed nothing.

And in yet another bid for media attention, Trump agreed to go on the Dr. Oz show to reveal his medical status. Except it turns out the Sept. 14 taping of the show did not reveal much of anything, least of all the status of Trump’s actual health. In an interview with MSNBC’s Kate Snow, Dr. Oz said the results he saw–which were not shared with the public–seemed consistent with a healthy person of Trump’s age.

Vague.

Trump claimed he has not been to a hospital since he was 11 because "he’s a very healthy person," but Oz asserted that the medical date Trump provided indicated a colonoscopy, a calcium test for the heart, other cancer screenings and various X-rays. So, another misrepresentation of the facts to say Trump has not been in a hospital since he was 11. The only medication Trump acknowledges being on is a statin for high cholesterol. In the less than revealing reveal, Trump claims to be 6'3" and 236 pounds. Which would make him as fit as Joe Biden who runs every day with President Obama and looks quite a bit trimmer by a good 50 pounds than Trump.

Clinton’s doctor released a fuller statement about Clinton’s health late on Sept. 14, noting Clinton had pneumonia in one lung for which she had been prescribed rest and 10 days of antibiotics. In addition, she is taking a thyroid medication as are about 25 to 30 percent of American women, and Coumadin, a blood thinner because she had a blood clot a few years ago after a concussion. (It should be noted that when Clinton was recovering from the blood clot, Republicans in Congress claimed she was faking to avoid hearings on Benghazi. There’s no actual winning for her on the issue of her health.)

As Amanpour decried the sexism in coverage of Clinton, she said, "Can’t a girl have a sick day or two?" and noted, "Overqualified women have to try a hundred times harder than unqualified men to get a break or even a level playing field."

President Obama appeared to agree. He has clearly had enough of Trump, who he said last week was utterly unqualified to be president and noted he did not feel that way about John McCain or Mitt Romney, his opponents in 2008 and 2012.

Speaking to a crowd of thousands on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum on Sept. 13 as he both touted his own record and campaigned for Hillary Clinton who was taking two days off to recuperate, Obama was succinct. Addressing the mostly young, predominantly of-color crowd that was chanting his name as he came onto the makeshift stage, Obama said, "I love you, too. But we got some business to do here. I am really into electing Hillary Clinton. Like, this isn’t me going through the motions here. I really, really, really want to elect Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton’s steady and true."

As much as his contempt for Trump was raw and visceral, so too was his affection and respect for Clinton palpable. Obama noted how there has been a daily shock to the collective system as Trump breaks all the rules of civil governance or even civil exchange in the political marketplace.

"As we go on, because we’ve become so partisan, our standards for what’s normal have changed. Donald Trump says stuff every day that used to be considered disqualifying for being president. And yet, because he says it over and over and over again, the press just gives up. And they just say, ‘Well, yeah, you know, okay....’ [Trump says] ‘I was opposed to the war in Iraq. Well actually he wasn’t, but they just accept it."

Of the differences between Trump and Clinton, Obama said, "We cannot afford, suddenly, to treat this like a reality show – we can’t afford to act as if there’s some equivalence here."

Obama asserted, "What sets Hillary apart is that through it all, she just keeps on going, and she doesn’t stop caring, and she doesn’t stop trying, and she never stops fighting for us, even if we haven’t always appreciated it."

Noting that Trump has benefited from his alleged "outsider" status, being the first presidential nominee never to have held public office since Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, Obama said, speaking directly to the youth vote that is an essential voting bloc for Clinton as it was for Obama, "We always like the new, shiny thing, I benefited from that when I was a candidate, and we take for granted sometimes what is steady and true, and Hillary Clinton is steady, and she is true. The young people who are here, who all you’ve been seeing is just the nonsense that’s been on TV, you maybe don’t remember all the work that she has had to do, and all the things that she has had to overcome. You can’t stay home because, ‘You know, she’s been around for a long time,’" Obama said. "I need you to work as hard for Hillary as you did for me."

Obama reached out to an array of voters, although Philadelphia is an overwhelmingly Democratic city that is also more than two-thirds non-white. He blasted Trump for his fondness for the dictatorial Russian president Putin and for his lack of knowledge of foreign affairs.

"Their nominee is out there praising a guy, saying he’s a strong leader because he invades smaller countries, jails his opponents, controls the press and drives his economy into a long recession," Obama told the very responsive crowd. "Think about the fact that that is Donald Trump’s role model."

Referring to Republican icon, late former president Ronald Reagan, Obama said to cheers from the crowd, "He saw America as a shining city on a hill. Donald Trump calls it a divided crime scene. He’s not offering any real policies or plans, just offering division and offering fear. And he’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might just scare up enough votes to win this election."

The passion in the president’s voice was genuine and many found it deeply moving. People in the crowd could be seen wiping away tears. Philadelphia has been a stronghold for Obama as well as for Clinton and Pennsylvania has become one of 11 swing states that will define and decide the 2016 election.

But as polls find the distance between the two candidates narrowing–and media imbalance in reporting more divergent and disturbingly pro-Trump, anti-Clinton, President Obama’s requests to get out the vote and support Clinton sounds like a call to arms.

And perhaps that is needed from the president who can now boast his highest approval rating since July 2009, because there is a definite battle between the media representation of Clinton and the actual woman who has been, as Obama described her and her record verifies, a stalwart public servant for 40 years.

On her MSNBC show Wednesday afternoon, Andrea Mitchell complained to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) that the Clinton Foundation tax returns and documents were "secret." So I tweeted the information to her, since all that required was Google.

This is where we are, less than two months before election day. The misogyny of the election has been as deep as it has been disturbing. The idea that Clinton calling out the racism, xenophobia, homophobia and misogyny of a significant proportion of Trump supporters is more controversial than the actual behavior hearkens to what Obama said in Philadelphia on Wednesday: the bar has been re-set in a way that is ultimately dangerous for the country. When Trump says "We’re going to take our country back," he means from women, people of color, LGBT people, immigrants. Clinton was not wrong in what she said, and according to a series of polls, not even wrong about the percentage, which is what liberals began to parse.

Trump and his surrogates will continue to de-legitimize Clinton – half of all Trump supporters believe the election will be "rigged" in Clinton’s favor. 

President Obama asserts this is the most important election in a generation and that Clinton is the most qualified candidate in history. But as with Obama’s own quest for the presidency, the issues of our white male system have been raised every time Clinton has taken the national stage. She gets harder questions and questions no one else gets–like "why don’t people like you," even though no other candidate has won as many primary votes as Clinton, first in 2008, now in 2016, which means she is actually pretty well-liked by millions. She won the primary in a landslide. And all the models have her winning the general election.

But – there are seven weeks of campaigning yet to go and as Obama said, the press has largely given up on holding Trump accountable – he even claimed he had helped dig through rubble at Ground Zero after 9/11 and went unchallenged.

The scenario Clinton presented at the LGBT gala on Sept. 9 may have offended some, but she was not wrong, and the LGBT people in attendance knew it. Trump has given voice not to the voiceless, as Clinton has, but to a swathe of America that has always been a dangerous and divisive undercurrent threatening those of us forced to the margins by Otherness.

As the clock ticks out to November, as Wikileaks and Russian hackers threaten to interfere in the election to give Trump an edge, we need to pay close attention to the misogyny, the racism, the lowering of the bar on basic civility, on basic knowledge of domestic and foreign policy and realize that it’s not just an issue of electing the first woman president or not, it’s a matter of saving the nation from the threat of fascism. And us with it.


Victoria A. Brownworth is an award-winning journalist, editor and writer and the author and editor of nearly 30 books. She has won the NLGJA and the Society of Professional Journalists awards, the Lambda Literary Award and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She won the 2013 SPJ Award for Enterprise Reporting in May 2014. She is a regular contributor to The Advocate and SheWired, a blogger for Huffington Post and A Room of Her Own, senior politics reporter and contributing editor for Curve magazine, contributing editor for Lambda Literary Review and a columnist for San Francisco Bay Area Reporter. Her reporting and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, Village Voice, Baltimore Sun, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Nation, Ms Magazine and Slate. Her book, Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic won the Lambda Literary Award, From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth won the 2012 Moonbeam Award for cultural & historical fiction. Her new novel, Ordinary Mayhem, won the IPPY Award for fiction on May 1, 2015. Her book Erasure: Silencing Lesbians and her next novel, Sleep So Deep, will both be published in 2016. @VABVOX

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