One of the most amusing spectacles of this election season has been the whipsawing of the loyalists. Repeatedly, spinners for
So far, Trump has been narrowly ahead in this important competition. But after Sunday, Clinton may have taken the lead.
For weeks, the official position of the chattering classes was that any inquiry into Clinton's health was "sexist."
As Democratic Sen.
Glamour magazine ran an item headlined, "Yes, it's sexist to speculate about
Last week, Clinton herself was asked if discussion of her health was sexist. She replied with a long, ironic "hmmmmmm" that typified her gift for political subtlety and nuance.
The same day, the headline for
Five days later, after Clinton's near-collapse at ground zero, another Cillizza column carried this headline:
But that wasn't the only whipsaw. On Sunday morning, the Clinton campaign put out the explanation that the heat got to her. Social media lighted up with corroborations that lower
My favorite take came from left-wing writer
Then, hours later, the campaign admitted that it wasn't the heat, but pneumonia. The dervishes suddenly threw the gearshift into reverse. Out with the meteorological hand-wringing, in with encomiums to Clinton's Stakhanovite stamina.
I have no sympathy for the spinners; this is the life they have chosen. And I have a word of caution for reporters who seem reluctant to cover certain issues if they think it's going to reward Trump.
It's true that the Trump campaign and its subalterns in conservative media have been dabbling in conspiracy-theorizing about Clinton's health. Indeed, the suggestion that Clinton's pneumonia is a vindication of the right-wing rumor that she's brain damaged is ridiculous. That doesn't mean, however, that reporters should take the Clinton campaign's word as gospel.
Journalism-school Jesuits have been saying that presidential candidates' health is relevant ever since FDR's "splendid deception." And in her FBI interview, Clinton seemed to invoke her concussion and subsequent blood clot as one of the reasons she couldn't recall security briefings. That's news. Period.
Besides, the greatest gift the mainstream media could give Trump, Drudge et al. would be to keep serving as Clinton's praetorian guard.
As this pneumonia episode demonstrates, Clinton's real problem isn't her health but the entirely valid perception that she's dishonest, secretive and exploits "the system" -- including the support of the mainstream media -- for her benefit.
In 2008, news outlets openly speculated about whether Sen.
People remember these things. When Clinton faltered on Sunday, she not only humiliated her most loyal servants, who were kept in the dark by a campaign terrified of playing it straight with voters and the media, she also made countless people say, "Looks like Drudge was right again."