How a smartphone camera changed the discussion on Clinton’s health

The Clinton campaign almost got away with it.
On Sunday at a 9/11 ceremony marking 15 years since the attacks, Hillary Clinton wasn’t feeling well to the point she had to make an early exit. Her handlers obviously knew what such an exit would do: Feed the narrative — irresponsibly called conspiracy theory at that point by too many posing as objective journalists — that there really was something more than allergies surrounding the Democratic presidential nominee’s health. 
{mosads}So Clinton was whisked away. Reporters embedded in her campaign were left in the dark for 90 minutes as to her whereabouts while the escape from New York was concocted. 
And she almost got away without any video footage via news crews showing it.
But as Clinton approached her van, a 50-year-old man by the name of Zdenek Gazda filmed her with his smartphone. Gazda is a Czech immigrant, Clinton supporter, and to my pleasant surprise, a huge New Jersey Devils fan.

He proceeded to upload the video onto his Twitter feed, which can serve as everyone’s own newsroom. As of Tuesday, more than 11 million people have viewed his Tweet, and at least hundreds of millions more worldwide have seen the video via broadcast outlets and other forms of social media such as YouTube and Facebook. 

Gazda joins the growing list of citizen journalists armed with a camera and his or her own broadcast station via Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or all of the above. And if he wasn’t there at that moment, you can rest assured Clinton’s communication team would have been spinning the “nothing-to-see-here” line and most of the media would be spinning along a much different, muted tune. 
Without video evidence, some conservative outlets may have raised questions about Clinton leaving such a solemn and sacred event early. But those questions and scrutiny would have stayed in that bubble, called crazy and conspiracy and therefore out of traditional media. As a result, 9/11 retrospectives and some political talk from the Sunday talk shows would have dominated the headlines instead. 
For Team Clinton, it would have been mission accomplished. No need to share the diagnoses of pneumonia for Clinton or for anyone on the campaign staff. Even Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) could have kept his own spell with the disease under wraps instead of suddenly sharing that little piece of information yesterday in an effort to attempt to portray it as a downright epidemic. 
Instead, Clinton is finally forced to share her prognosis of pneumonia — if that’s all this is, which some top doctors are questioning — and will release more of her medical records this week, as will Trump, on “Dr. Oz.”
But the Clinton campaign tried to keep Americans in the dark once again. There’s a reason nearly 70 percent of the country in poll after poll finds her to be not honest and trustworthy. 
“She entered the van on her own accord,” deputy press secretary Brian Fallon had the audacity to say to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Monday despite Gazda’s video clearly showing three people helping a fallen Clinton get in. 
“We could have done better yesterday, but it is a fact that public knows more about [Hillary Rodham Clinton] than any other candidate in history.” 
Yup — which is why more medical records need to be released next week. The hubris of the defeated is dumbfounding sometimes.  
But it never should have come to this: Both Trump and Clinton should — being elderly at 70 and almost 69, respectively, while seeking arguably the most stressful and grueling job in the world — be examined by independent doctors and have those findings released to the public in full. 
Given the stakes, is that really such an outlandish request? 
The Gazda video serves a powerful and potentially devastating image the Clinton campaign will have to answer to for the remainder of the campaign with every cough and other health oddity on the campaign trail. 
If Clinton misses one event or even leaves before she was scheduled to, fairly or not, the health issue again becomes a question. And if she falls again in public the way she did Sunday, you could be seeing her running mate, Tim Kaine, replace her at the top of the ticket. 
If Team Clinton thinks keeping the press at bay means others aren’t watching, aren’t filming, aren’t recording, they might want to talk to Mitt Romney at some point about the way his 47 percent comment went down. 
Citizen journalism. It’s changing the way campaigns and the media do business as usual forever. 
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 Charles Schumer Citizen journalism Democratic Party Hillary Clinton New York New York City Pneumonia Republican Party Social media Tim Kaine United States

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