The Current

Coverage of Hillary Clinton's health is sexist, says media watcher

News of Hillary Clinton's pneumonia diagnosis has fuelled her critics' viral outrage over the transparency of her health and character. But supporters say the real fever is over the fact she's female. Is the Clinton campaign in crisis?
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton left the 9/11 anniversary ceremony in New York early after feeling 'overheated.' (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

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On Sept. 11, Hillary Clinton left a 9/11 anniversary memorial in New York City early — feeling unwell, swaying and stumbling as she entered a vehicle. Her campaign, at first, said she was "overheated" but it later emerged that Clinton had earlier been diagnosed with pneumonia.

Her Republican opponent Donald Trump has wished Clinton well, but also made it clear that health will be an election issue. He has promised to release more of his own health details, beyond the doctor's note from last year that promised Trump would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."

Cliff Kincaid, with the conservative media watchdog group Accuracy in Media, says Clinton's secrecy around her health is dishonest.

Kincaid tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti that the video of Clinton stumbling "proves that all this talk preceding this event about 'allergies' was just a lie, that she's got major health problems."

"We know about her concussion. We know she had a blood clot in the brain. We know according to the FBI documents released as a result of the investigation, that she could not even remember having a briefing on the handling of national security or classified information  —  even though she had signed such a document back in 2009. So she's had a series of health problems."

Kincaid says the media has been protecting Clinton by not going after the truth. "This isn't an issue of privacy — this is an issue of the right to know."

Dianne Bystromdirector of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, says the one thing she agrees on with Kincaid is criticizing mainstream media. In Bystrom's view, the media coverage on Sunday was overplayed.

"I think women are socialized to just power through and work through things… We all have examples from our lives where we couldn't stay home sick."

The U.S. is ranked 97th among all democracies in the representation of women in government, says Bystrom.

Clinton's the first female presidential nominee for a major party, and Bystrom tells Tremonti the media coverage for a female candidate is not equal to male candidates.

"Not only is it negative but it has a really sexist undertone and it did in 2008 for Hillary Clinton, it did for Sarah Palin, it did for Carly Fiorina," says Bystrom.

Bystrom says that no matter which way Clinton handled her pneumonia diagnosis, she would have been criticized — whether she went to meetings sick or, in this case, because she wasn't upfront about it.

"I think what needs to happen is that both candidates, I think, have to make a fuller disclosure of their medical records  —  not only Secretary Clinton but also Donald Trump, who has disclosed even less about his medical history."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson and Willow Smith.