It’s always been an odd argument to make: A 68-year-old woman running for president with blood clots who suffered a concussion in recent years isn’t allowed to have her medical condition questioned or even broached.
Article by Joe Concha
To do so, critics, especially those on CNN and CNN.com, said it would be engaging in peddling conspiracy theories.
Enter Dr. David Scheiner, a former physician to President Barack Obama, on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” on Tuesday night who had the audacity to raise a number of questions around both the health ofHillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and the transparency surrounding it.
“There are a number of questions I have,” said Scheiner, who was the president’s physician for 21 years. “First of all, she’s also 68 years old, and while I think that letter was well-written and very professional, unlike Dr Bornstein’s (Donald Trump’s doctor), it’s not enough.
“For example, she’s on Coumadin, a medication to prevent blood clots,” he continued. “You have to monitor that and it says she’s being monitored regularly, I’d like to know how well she’s being controlled. That’s a difficult drug to use.”
Clinton’s last released a letter from her internist in July 2015. Her campaign has vowed not to release anything else related to her medical records before Election Day.
“Also, I think she should have had a neurological examination, a thorough neurological examination in 2016,” recommended Scheiner. “We know what happens to football players who have had concussions, how they begin to lose some of their cognitive ability, I think both of them (Trump and Clinton) should release their records.”
And for those who are thinking Scheiner is some kind of Trump plant from the medical profession, think again.
“I have misgivings about Hillary Clinton,” he told Erin Burnett. “But by far she’s superior to him (Trump). He scares the devil out of me.”
The questioning of Clinton and Trump’s medical history is objective and refreshing in the otherwise polarized world of cable news. Because lately it seems that — depending on which candidate one is rooting for — the scrutiny only focuses only on one side.
Regarding Trump, his doctor looks like the one hired by Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise in Cannonball Run to help their ambulance race across the country to win the coast-the-coast contest for $1 million dollars (a big deal at the time).
Trump should be pressured into seeing a physician who would conduct an actual thorough examination. Those findings should then be released to the public.
As for Clinton, she also needs to produce something other than the 2-page letter she offered up more than 13 months ago regarding her health if Dr. Scheiner’s educated concern is any indication.
Dr. Bob Lehita, currently chairman of the department of medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, shares Scheiner’s view.
“This is a very unusual story with Hillary,” said Lahita on Fox Business recently, 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.”
But over the last few weeks at CNN, outside of Burnett’s program Tuesday night, the notable theme has been to dismiss the kind of questions doctors like Scheiner and Lahita have raised.
A CNN headline on August 24 reads: The new birthers: Debunking the Hillary Clinton health conspiracy
Lede: “From Donald Trump and his top surrogates to the right-wing media and its engine rooms of outrage in the blogosphere, Hillary Clinton’s opponents are ramping up efforts to sow doubt over the candidate’s health.”
Another CNN story declares that the Democratic nominee’s health is A-OK before pivoting to Trump: Clinton’s health is fine, but what about Trump?
CNN Media Reporter Brian Stelter also has opined that any questions about Clinton health are of the conspiracy variety by repeatedly attacking Fox’s Sean Hannity:
“He’s definitely an entertainer, but he’s doing a disservice to his audience by peddling these conspiracy theories and the Clinton campaign,” Stelter told Anderson Cooper. “Whether you agree with them or not, they are right tonight to be saying these are just conspiracy theories.
They’ve been debunked time and time again, Stelter argues, adding, “This is stuff that does not belong on the lead website, like the Drudge Report, or on the Fox News Channel. It just doesn’t belong there.”
From now to Election Day, the media needs to press both to release their records the same way John McCain did. Not one page or two pages of generalities without specifics, but more along the lines of the 1,173 pages the Arizona senator did in 2008 when the media was 20 times more interested in his fitness for the highest office in the land than they are about Clinton and Trump, who are about the same age as he was when seeking the presidency.
But questioning Clinton’s health is now not only not encouraged in some media circles, it’s downright censored.
Over last weekend, Huffington Post contributor David Seamon was barred by the popular publication for raising questions around Clinton’s medical condition in articulate and professional fashion.
HuffPo even went so far to delete his last two articles in an act that can only be deemed censorship. “It’s chilling. I still haven’t really absorbed it,” he shared in a video posted Sunday.
But the media world is all too blinded by partisanship to make the same request Dr. Scheiner and Dr. Lahita have in lucid and reasoned fashion.
Bring up Clinton’s health, be labeled a crazy conspiracy theorist. Bring up Trump’s health, you’re only part of the Clinton cult.
If things were relatively normal, somewhat civil, reasonable people would agree on this simple request. But this election is anything but normal, anything but civil.
And in the process, both candidates will skate from what should be a mandatory requirement before holding arguably one of the most stressful and powerful jobs in the world.
Commentary by Joe Concha, a media reporter for The Hill.
For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.
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