You’ve got to love the audacity of Chris Cillizza, the “editor-at-large” at CNN, who expressed faux outrage at Fox News personalities for “raising entirely unfounded questions about a presidential candidate’s health.”
Cillizza wrote a column called “Donald Trump (and Fox News) are dog-whistling on Joe Biden” in which he worries that Despicable Donald and his evil minions at Fox will stop at nothing in the 2020 election, even questioning Joe Biden’s health! (I’m worrying about Cillizza’s questionable knowledge of grammar as demonstrated in that headline, but that’s another story!)
To prove his questionable point, Cillizza quotes the research of Daily Beast writer Justin Baragona in his piece “Fox News Stars Begin Pushing Rumors About Biden’s Health,” and acts all hurt (but not shocked!) that Fox News would stoop so low as to question the health of a presidential candidate. Cillizza quotes Baragona as follows:
“Since the end of May, Fox Business Network and Fox News star Lisa ‘Kennedy’ Montgomery and Fox News prime-time host Sean Hannity have speculated on-air, on at least four separate occasions, that the current Democratic presidential frontrunner is secretly dealing with health issues, often comparing his condition to illness-related conspiracy theories the network pushed about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.”
He then cites Baragona’s “evidence”:
Kennedy claimed that conversations among Democratic opposition-researchers all center on “you know there is something wrong with the former vice president.” She offered no proof for this claim.
Hannity, Fox’s biggest star, said this: “Joe Biden’s tired. He does not have the energy for this. He’s not up for this challenge. They’re already hiding him like they hid Hillary. They don’t want him out there.”
First of all, one needs to point out two things: Both Kennedy and Hannity are Fox opinion hosts, not news personalities. The only reason why anyone listens to them is to find out what they are thinking about. In the case of Kennedy, we are supposed to care what outrageous thing comes out of her mouth because she is a character named Kennedy (personally I don’t understand why she has a job). And in the case of Hannity, what he said isn’t even a health-related rumor. Does anyone remember “low-energy’ Jeb Bush? Energy level is certainly a legitimate topic of discussion about presidential candidates.
Cillizza calls the comments by Kennedy and Hannity “baseless attacks” and says such attacks should be off-limits. That left him wide open to a counterpunch, and Kalev Leetaru at Real Clear Politics gave him a solid shot today:
Earlier this week CNN took aim at Fox News for raising “baseless” questions about Joe Biden’s health, arguing that such speculation “crosses the line” from “journalism [to] activism.” Yet a closer look shows that CNN has long covered similar questions about Donald Trump’s health.
Just months after his inauguration, CNN’s Brian Stelter asked, “Is the president … suffering from some sort of illness?” A few days later the news channel ran the headline“Yes, it’s OK to question Trump’s mental health” followed in early 2018 by“Doctors want President Trump’s head examined”; the latter piece argued that “the president may be struggling with some mental health challenges.” One day before its Fox News criticism, CNN ran the headline“George Conway: President is ‘mentally unwell.’”
Leetaru concludes by asking the $64,000 question:
… if speculation about the health of Trump – who this week turns 73 — warrants dozens or more mentions a month, why should the fitness of other candidates — including one who would be 78 on the next Inauguration Day — be off-limits?
But what is truly hilarious about Cillizza’s mock outrage is that when he quotes the “terrific piece” by Baragona at Daily Beast, he somehow left out these paragraphs:
… since taking office, Trump himself has occasionally been the butt of such illness-related speculation.
CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter faced criticism when he wondered aloud in 2017 why more journalists don’t ask “uncomfortable questions” about the president’s mental state. “His actions have been described as unpresidential, unhinged, and sometimes even crazy,” Stelter said. “That word crazy can be interpreted several different ways. It gets said more in private than on TV.” And Stelter has been far from alone at CNN when it comes to questioning the president’s mental fitness.
Did he think no one else would remember the breathless reporting about Donald Trump’s mental and physical health over the past three years? One of the first things you learn as a writer in freshman English is to acknowledge the opposition in any argument. By pretending the other side doesn’t exist, you just make yourself look stupid.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Chris Cillizza as exhibit A.
Frank Miele writes from Kalispell, Montana, at www.HeartlandDiaryUSA.com and is a columnist at Real Clear Politics. To read more of my columns about the Dishonest Media, the Deep Swamp, the failed presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Trump’s war to restore American greatness, read my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy or “The Media Matrix: What If Everything You Know Is Fake?”. They are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions.
Also visit Heartland Diary on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1FmrOF2TF-njRznqoU4yjA