Clinton health questions: Off limits or legitimate issue?

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Hillary Clinton is 68 years old. She’s been diagnosed with cerebral venous thrombosis; head trauma, pregnancy, cancer, brain infection, autoimmune diseases and inborn clotting abnormalities are all predisposing factors, per The Washington Post. She’s currently taking blood thinners. Four years ago, Clinton fainted, hit her head and suffered a concussion. 

She’s also the odds-on favorite to assume one of the most strenuous jobs on the planet as president of the United States. 

{mosads}But lately many in the media have become outraged that Clinton’s health is being broached at all. And what are the primary two words associated when Donald Trump, a Trump surrogate or conservative media bring up Clinton’s medical condition?

“Conspiracy theories.” 

But are they all just engaging in wacky speculation in an effort to take down Clinton, where she has a relatively comfortable 5.5-point lead in the RealClearPolitics average of polls?

At first, Clinton health speculation was something you could read about on Drudge or Brietbart or hear about on “Hannity” on Fox News. But recently, other medical voices have come forward to bring the narrative to a non-partisan, legitimate level.

A prime example comes in the form from Beth Israel Medical Center’s Dr. Bob Lahita, who is not a fringe medical expert or one who engages in political advocacy. 

Dr. Lahita’s resume is impressive: Currently chairman of the department of medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. His opinion is so respected, he’s been tapped as a medical expert by “CBS This Morning,” MSNBC, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Fox Business Network and “Health on 12” in New Jersey.

He has also written numerous books, including “Lupus: Everything You Want to Know” and “Women and Autoimmune Disease, The Mysterious Ways Your Body Betrays Itself,” via Harper Collins. He serves as the editor of the Yearbook of Rheumatology.

So with that kind of reputation and resume, it’s notable that on the Fox Business Network recently, Dr. Lahita made a compelling argument regarding both concerns around Clinton’s health and the need for more transparency regarding health records of any presidential candidate.

“This is a very unusual story with Hillary,” said Lahita, pointing to the two blood clots she’s been diagnosed with in the past. “The very fact that she’s having these clots and she’s had two bouts of thrombosis is disconcerting to say the least.”

When asked if questions about Clinton’s health are legitimate and not part of a political conspiracy, Lahita said without hesitation, “I don’t think it’s a conspiracy.”

Lahita then pivoted to past presidents who entered office with health problems.

“You go back to the history of our presidents and we’ve had many presidents up until Lyndon Johnson who’ve concealed their health during their campaigns,” explained Lahita.

“It had dire effects for our country, going from Kennedy to Roosevelt, to Woodrow Wilson, whose wife ran the White House for some time,” he continued, “So we have issues here and I think both candidates should be very forthcoming and perhaps have an impartial panel of physicians review the data and make that kind of decision before Americans go to the polls.”

Is Lahita’s perspective one of a blind partisan grasping at straws in an effort to hurt the perception of the Democratic nominee? 

Of course not.

Is it possible to have an honest discussion about the candidates of both candidates, one who is 70 in Trump and who will be 69 before Election Day in Clinton?


And that’s because of tweets like this from New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo, who called on Google to censor any story pertaining to Clinton’s health.

Would that mean someone like the aforementioned Dr. Lahita should be censored, too?

Rhetorical question.

A recent Rasmussen Reports survey found that nearly 6 in 10 voters (59 percent) say all major presidential candidates should release their most recent medical records to the public.

Clinton’s last release was a two-page letter from Mount Kisco, N.Y., internist Dr. Lisa Bardack more than one year ago simply stating she was “as a healthy 67-year-old female whose current medical conditions include hypothyroidism and seasonal pollen allergies.”

In contrast, John McCain faced intense media scrutiny when he ran for president at age 71 in 2008. The headlines included:

McCain’s age is a legitimate issue — Politico, May 22, 2008

In 2008, nobody in the media questioned any scrutiny of McCain nor mentioned anything about conspiracy theories. At the time, McCain even invited reporters to review the complete 1,173 pages of his medical records. 
Should the press be asking Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the same kind of transparency around their respective health records? 


Are Clinton’s health issues — given the sober analysis of the respected Dr. Lahita as an example — also be a fair topic to broach and discuss without being labeled as a conspiracy theory? 


But when a partisan press not only practices the bias of omission and even encourages outright censorship, basic Journalism 101 is no longer welcome, especially as it pertains to Hillary Clinton.

Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.
The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.
Tags 2016 presidential election CNN Democratic Party Donald Trump Fox News Health records Hillary Clinton John McCain media Republican Party Transparency United States

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