Monday, August 22, 2016
"It's out there"
Ari Rabin-Havt at Right Wing Watch draws the comparison between the birthers and the new "health truthers". It's worth pointing out before you read it that two thirds of Trump voters believe President Obama is a Muslim as of may of this year. As of a year ago, 43 percent of Republicans believe that overall.
Like the birthers of the Obama era, Hillary health truthers base their accusations on a convoluted mix of conspiracy theories, exaggerations and outright lies that forces believers to willfully ignore any evidence to the contrary while twisting themselves into logical pretzels.
That last part is one of the purposes of all right wing smears. They just want to get it out there.
Ignoring the standard physician's letter that Clinton’s campaign, like most presidential campaigns, has released, they are convinced that the candidate making a joke about rapid-fire questions from reporters in a Washington, D.C., coffee shop in June is evidence that she had a seizure. (Oddly, these truthers must believe that journalists next to Clinton reacted to her apparent seizure by laughing). They also point to a single picture of Clinton slipping on icy stairs as proof of her poor health, while there are literally hundreds of pictures in existence of her climbing steps unaided. The Drudge Report splashed across the top of its page a link to a conservative blog pointing to the fact that a pillow is often found on the seats upon which Hillary Clinton sits, because apparently desiring lumbar support is somehow evidence of a major medical malady. (Unlike Trump, her physician has not declared that she “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”)
Hillary health truthers have also released fake letters, fake medical records claiming to be from Clinton’s doctor and even a fake MRI.
Just as racism drove birtherism, health trutherism is undoubtedly driven by misogyny. There is an extensive history of demeaning women by calling them “crazy,” not to mention undercutting their ability to serve in positions of prominence and power.
Accusing the first female presidential nominee of a major political party of being brain damaged is simply an attempt to use fake medicine and outright lies to elevate this sexist trope into the mainstream political discourse.
Pushers of these theories will feign offense at these accusations. How dare they be accused of sexism, they will complain, when they’re not saying that Hillary is crazy, just brain damaged. They’re just asking questions. They will say that these queries simply come from concern about the health of the future president. Nonsense.
Hillary health truthers see this as an open opportunity to claim that the potential first female president of the United States is unfit for the job. And as in the case of birtherism, there will be no evidence presented to the contrary that will satisfy those spreading these falsehoods. They will either deny the proof at hand or move the goalposts as they invent new conspiracies.
The media has been put in a bind by these stories. Because the accusations are emerging from the Trump campaign itself, not covering them is nearly impossible. Yet even coverage that debunks this health trutherism also helps to spread it. In that way, even well-meaning reporters providing factual information— even, I admit, this piece— have the potential to give legs to these lies. Once again, the Trump campaign has successfully hacked the media.
*Cokie's Law is "it doesn't matter if it's true or not --- it's out there." It is based upon this article from an earlier time:
Did Not! Did Too! Wanna Bet?
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 5, 1999; Page C01
"His mother? His grandmother? . . . They're the ones responsible for Bill Clinton's bad behavior?" say Cokie and Steve Roberts. "Please!"
"Here we have her blaming the mother-in-law, essentially, for her husband's philandering," says Tony Blankley on CNN.
"Hillary Clinton should stop playing Dr. Laura," says "Crossfire" co-host Bill Press.
Hold on! James Carville, the president's pit-bull spinmeister, says the first lady never said what the media are ridiculing her for saying. And Carville is wagering $100,000 that he's right.
He will put classified ads in Sunday's New York Daily News and Washington Post, offering the six-figure sum "to any reporter who can show me that Hillary Clinton linked the president's sexual misconduct with his childhood," Carville said yesterday. The offer came after he consulted with White House strategists and Clinton allies who are increasingly worried about calming the summer squall.
"The press corps are savages," Carville added. "This is the worst bull I've ever seen. People don't know that she never said it. . . . You can't misreport what she said." At worst, said Carville, the first lady "alluded to these two things."
Semantically speaking, Carville has a point. In the Talk magazine interview that triggered this week's uproar, Clinton was speaking about her husband's "sin of weakness" and how he "lied" to "protect" her. She also observed that the president "needs to be more responsible, more disciplined."
In the next paragraph, writer Lucinda Franks said she mentioned having read about Bill Clinton's chaotic childhood in his mother's autobiography. "That's only the half of it," the first lady said. "He was so young, barely four, when he was scarred by abuse that he can't even take it out and look at it. There was terrible conflict between his mother and grandmother. A psychologist once told me that for a boy being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation. There is always the desire to please each one."
That was it. The word "abuse," in that context, fueled a media frenzy. And many journalists aren't buying Carville's she-never-said-it argument.
"I read the article closely--she seems to say that," said ABC's Cokie Roberts, who pens a syndicated column with her husband. "The whole tone and tenor is 'poor baby. He had a rough time, it's remarkable he's turned out as well as he has, he has a weakness.' "
Chris Matthews, host of CNBC's "Hardball," said that "Mrs. Clinton is trying to be candid" and "grapple with something very difficult," but that "the White House big shots bigfooted her and said this psychological explanation is not going to work." He said the White House had gone "back into cover-up mode," a move that was "pushing this story into even higher levels of importance."
"I'm on Hillary's side," said Bill O'Reilly, host of Fox's "O'Reilly Factor" and usually a conservative critic of the Clintons. "I didn't see the article as an attempt to excuse his behavior. . . . She was explaining why she stood by her husband."
Why, then, did O'Reilly begin his Tuesday show by talking about "Hillary Clinton's assertion that her husband's upbringing is responsible for his irresponsible sexual behavior"? "That's just a tease," he said. "Basically, I was headlining what people were talking about."
Back on the Senate campaign trail in New York yesterday, Clinton said the article's message is that "everybody is responsible for their behavior," but declined to discuss the topic further. That did little to quiet the debate, with MSNBC's Linda Vester describing it as "a little post-revelation spin."
Franks said Tuesday on "Larry King Live" that she thinks "it's very clear that Hillary sees her husband's childhood as influencing his behavior." On Fox News Channel yesterday, though, Franks said people are misreading her piece and that the first lady "did not link his abuse to his infidelity."
"But she put it out there for people to chew on," countered anchor Paula Zahn.
Carville, for his part, says he will "name names" of journalists who misreported Clinton's comments and invite them to sue him for the 100 grand. But he may be too late.
"At this point," said Roberts, "it doesn't much matter whether she said it or not because it's become part of the culture. I was at the beauty parlor yesterday and this was all anyone was talking about."
digby 8/22/2016 01:30:00 PM