CNN's Smerconish: Speculation about Trump's mental health 'unfair and unseemly'

CNN host Michael Smerconish rebuked Democrats and fellow media figures on Saturday for speculating about President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE's mental health after the release of a book detailing the first days of the Trump presidency, calling such questions "unseemly."

In a monologue on his CNN show, Smerconish warned that a debate over the president's mental fortitude was "unfair," comparing it to scrutiny Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff MORE received after collapsing due to pneumonia at an event during the 2016 campaign.

"One of the most talked-about aspects of Michael Wolff's new book on President Trump has been its calling into question Trump's fitness for office, not just in terms of his knowledge, temperament and experience, but also his mental fitness," Smerconish said. "And the last one treads into territory that troubles me."

Smerconish warned against "inexact and subjective" speculation about mental health, and questioned whether Trump's purported "instability" could in fact be an "asset" in the White House.

He also mentioned the "Goldwater rule," the nickname for the rule among psychiatrists that armchair diagnoses of political candidates is unethical.


“I don’t think we should encourage this sort of speculation. First, it’s inexact and it’s subjective. Second, it’s unfair and unseemly. Just as I said it was when some speculated about what ailed Hillary Clinton when she took a stumble," Smerconish continued.

"I don't distinguish between mental and physical when it comes to respecting privacy," he added. "But, more importantly, I'm uncomfortable with getting rid of the 'Goldwater rule,' which was imposed for a purpose. It wasn't fair to Sen. Goldwater that he was the subject of armchair diagnoses."

Such diagnoses, he warned, risks turning people with real mental health issues into "political fodder."

The CNN host's comments come in the wake of author Michael Wolff's newly released book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," which details accounts from Trump staffers who the author says view their boss as "childlike."

"I don't describe him as childlike, every person in the White House ... Literally, that is the common description among every one of his senior people," Wolff said Thursday. "That the president is somewhat like a child."

The White House has pushed back against the author, denying that he had access to Trump and asserting that many of the claims in the book are false.

“Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonThe Memo: Fauci at odds with Trump on virus House panel releases long-awaited transcripts from Russia probe Sunday shows preview: America braces for next month of pandemic MORE, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!” Trump tweeted Saturday.

The president also blasted those questioning his mental fitness for office, calling himself a “very stable genius” and “like, really smart" in a series of tweets.