The Double Standard In the Media Firestorm over Clinton’s Pneumonia

Hillary Clinton accepting the Democratic nomination at the 2016 DNC Convention in Philly.

It’s Day 3 and I’m on my last leg of patience discussing Secretary Hillary Clinton’s health.

For those who’ve somehow managed to live under a rock ( and a lucky rock that is, I might add), Clinton who has had a cough on and off for a few months was diagnosed with walking pneumonia last Friday by her doctor.

Why is this news? You ask.

Secretary Clinton was at the 9/11 ceremony in New York City on Sunday. A place that was important for her to have a presence not just as a candidate running for President of the United States but as someone who was US Senator when 9/11 in 2001 happened. Secretary Clinton left this ceremony early feeling “overheated”,  and headed to her daughter’s apartment to lie down and hydrate.

No big right? Wrong.

Before we even KNEW that she had pneumonia, the media was losing their collective minds. Why did she get “overheated”? “Why didn’t she drink some water”…”what is she really hiding?!”

I’m watching the news reports of  9/11 commemoration events and NBC News flashes breaks into my regularly scheduled programming with: “SPECIAL REPORT”.

“Special Report”. It’s the same one they flashed fifteen years ago to announce the attacks on the World Trade Center.

The “Special Report” was to announce Secretary Clinton…left the 9/11 ceremony…. due to overheating!



It was an 80 degree day and she was in a dark suit  (while likely wearing a bullet proof vest) and she’s over 65 years old, this wasn’t shocking to me, and hardly worthy of a “Special Report” breaking news event. What was shocking was how much all of collective news stopped on Sunday to cover this!

If Secretary Clinton had completely collapsed unconscious, I’d certainly understand at least the media distraction, but that’s not what happened

As the day wore on, someone took a cell phone video of her struggling to get into her car with help. The media secured the video and released it adding fuel to the fire. It was clear the media wasn’t going to  stop talking about it so the campaign finally admitted Secretary Clinton had pneumonia.

It bares mentioning at this point that Trump himself has repeatedly questioned, with no provocation, Secretary Clinton’s stamina to serve in public office.

“To defeat crime and radical Islamic terrorism in our country, to win trade in our country, you need tremendous physical and mental strength and stamina. Hillary Clinton doesn’t have that strength and stamina.”–Donald Trump, speech in West Bend, Wisconsin, Aug. 16, 2016

“Importantly, she also lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS.”
— Trump, speech in Youngstown, Ohio, Aug. 15, 2016

He’s done this enough recently it would account for some media sensitivity around her health, which would all be fair and good if the same media sensitivity was extended toward Donald Trump.

Clinton released a letter from her internist of 15 years detailing her health up to this point including her “hypothyroidism and seasonal pollen allergies”. The letter also  details the side effects (concussion) after the fall she took as Secretary of State due to a common stomach virus,  as well as an elbow fracture and some deep vein thrombosis.

Trump also released a letter from a gastroentologist (not even an internist)  that was much shorter than Hillary’s and  gave no such extensive details of Trump’s medical history or ailments.  The letter went so far as to say as if quoting Trump himself  “his health and physical stamina are extraordinary” and “if elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

Trump’s health letter appropriately raised more than a few eyebrows at it’s scarcity of detail and rhetoric, but there has never been a great media push to get more details on his health records. *cue the side eye*

It would seem entirely fair to ask Donald Trump for more records, he would be the oldest President to take office. Men don’t live as long as women and the last time someone was his age in the Oval office they developed Alzheimer’s!

But nope, the media  are focused on Hillary Clinton’s walking pneumonia. Anybody can tell you if they have worked a campaign or have run for office, (I’ve done BOTH) feeling crappy to actually getting sick is inevitable. When you’re working near 24/7 with little sleep, eventually your immune system breaks down, and that’s for campaign staffers who are primarily in their 20s and 30s.

Hillary Clinton is a woman who was Secretary of State when she traveled to 112 countries more than any Secretary of State prior (John Kerry finally broke that record). While Secretary of State, she fainted from a stomach virus causing her concussion, but went straight back to work.

You think she had already proved her stamina to the public.

Now, folks can say that the Hillary and her campaign could have been more forthcoming about her pneumonia diagnosis, but to what ends? Because it still wouldn’t have garnered ridiculous amounts of media attention? Yeah…sure.

If Clinton actually wanted to keep it quiet because she thought the media was going to spin out of control about her stamina and health, well this focus on her health Day 3 after her stumble about whether it’s the end of her campaign (seriously) proves her point.

It’s quite honestly possible that Hillary Clinton thought she would be fine and take the rest intermittently as she needed it. In other words, power through as most women do.

My grandmother gave birth to one of my uncles at home by herself and went back to farming two days later. My mom still went to work right after she was in a car accident because even though the doctor said she could rest, she needed to work and pay bills. While holding a separate day job, I also managed a national conference for an organization for which I was a volunteer leader while badly inflicted with a sinus infection that affected my energy levels and my speaking and breathing abilities.

I don’t say this to show how tough the women in my family are because I do wish our culture regarded the body’s need to rest and recover more than it does. That being said, I’ve known countless women who’ve worked like the women in my family because they had to put food on the table, because countless people have depended on them for their strength. And they just don’t complain about their ailments.

For all the stories we know of Dorothy Rodham’s impoverished life and will to survive before she  was Hillary’s mother, we know that Hillary was raised in a similar vein. Add to that, Hillary coming of age during the modern women’s rights movement while seeking entrance to a profession that had traditionally barred women, you know that she has doubled down on hiding any and all perceived weakness to prove her stamina. This I understand personally and many other women do.

Being a candidate for public office is hard work regardless of gender. But being a woman candidate for office is harder where the schedule is unforgiving  and sexist questions like Trump’s about a woman’s stamina to hold public office still pervade. Unfortunately, thanks to sentiments like Trump has expressed, the need for a woman to look strong and capable is even more of an imperative.

No, Clinton keeping her pneumonia to herself and inner staff circle while she gets better is not a national issue. What is a national issue is that a lot of the media played right into the hands of Donald Trump (whose kept his own health status hidden).  They have hounded Hillary Clinton about her health and stamina, in the belief that they are seeking transparency.


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