[Content Note: Auditing; dehumanization; misogyny; disablism.]
Hillary Clinton was outside for an hour and a half on a warm and humid day in New York yesterday, wearing appropriate professional attire—a high-collared blouse, with slacks and a blazer. The event, a 9/11 memorial, was certainly an emotional one for her, as she was New York's junior senator on the day the attack happened. She has worked very hard on behalf of survivors and first responders, and the families of those lost, many of whom she has come to know personally.
She got overheated. She swooned. She was helped into a van, which transported her to her daughter Chelsea's nearby apartment, where she was able to cool off and rehydrate and whatever else she needed to do to feel better.
And then she felt better. She emerged a short time later with a smile, waving to the gathered crowd and posing for a photo with a little girl.
Later, the campaign issued a note from her longtime physician, who disclosed that Clinton is being treated for pneumonia. Which includes being on a course of antibiotics. Which can increase the risk of dehydration and overheating.
So that's the story. Clinton is a human being who got physically overwhelmed in circumstances many people would, cooled off, and now feels better.
But the media rules for Clinton are different. So naturally, this completely normal incident was treated as though it's evidence Something Is Amiss. Especially since Donald Trump has been promulgating fringe conspiracy theories about her health for a month.
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, whose casual misogyny toward Clinton should never be forgotten, immediately came out of the gate with a piece definitively headlined: "Hillary Clinton's health just became a real issue in the presidential campaign."
Really? Has it? On what basis? That a woman who has been crisscrossing the country for 18 months on an unfathomably relentless schedule of campaigning felt faint one morning while recovering from pneumonia?
CNN has been looping footage of Hillary Clinton being helped into a van, her knees buckling, as though we're looking at something sinister. What I see is someone who looks overcome by the heat.
I've had extreme heat sensitivity my whole life, and that's exactly what it looks like when I start to feel faint from getting overheated and dehydrated. It doesn't look sinister; it looks familiar.
And of the dozens of times in my life I've experienced such a thing, I've been wearing summer clothes, not several layers topped by a blazer (with, possibly, a bulletproof vest underneath). I've never had pneumonia at the time. I've also never been under the pressure of national media suggesting unfoundedly that I have health issues, which could have influenced me to push the envelope on what my body can take, in order to try to avoid horrible accusations of ill health, just because I'm a human being with limits.
I'm not suggesting that definitely happened—I don't know Clinton. I just have the ability and willingness to extend basic empathy to other people. It's not difficult for me to imagine how the constant, unfair policing of her supposed "health issues" could result in her pushing herself even harder.
This is not a news story. And the corporate media's attempt to turn it into one is gross. It is deeply cynical, and, worse yet, it is dehumanizing—because in every report is necessarily embedded the expectation that Clinton somehow be superhuman. That she can't just succumb momentarily to the heat combined with illness, like lots of other people could, but there must be something else, something nefarious, at play.
I am angry watching this happen. I am angry at seeing the media holding Clinton to different standards, yet again. I am angry that they are further breathing credibility into Trump's conspiracy theorizing.
I am angry that most members of the media reporting on this are so eager to report it's indicative of a larger health issue that they can't even be bothered to express basic concern for a fellow human being.
I am angry at the implication that, even if Clinton did have some sort of chronic health issue, that would axiomatically mean she is unfit for the presidency, as though we have never had a president with a disability, or as if people with disabilities can't serve as president.
And I am angry at the idea that Hillary Clinton, of all people, would continue to run for the presidency if she had a health issue that would prevent her from effectively filling the requirements of the job.
This election is the worst in about a million different ways, but the absolute shitshow that the corporate media has become, in their shameless quest to defeat her, is right at the top of the list.