Politics

01.02.13

Hillary Clinton Haters Hammered for Mocking Her Illness

Fox News and conservatives scoffed at Hillary Clinton’s illness as ‘Benghazi flu.’ Then her blood clot was diagnosed. Lauren Ashburn on the backlash—and the backtracking.

Hey, Fox News, guess it’s not the “Benghazi flu” after all. Turns out that Hillary—you know, the woman many of you love to hate—has a blood clot near her brain.

What we heard from some on the right after Hillary Clinton said she suffered a concussion last month—following a bout with the stomach flu—was that she could be faking it, since it happened just days before she was scheduled to testify about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. (That’s you, John Bolton, the former State Department official who accused her of contracting a “diplomatic illness.”)

Seems to me that kicking people when they’re down isn’t a very Christian thing to do. Haven’t many of you spent all of the advent season talking about how everyone is taking Christ out of Christmas? The war on Christmas, right? How ’bout you launch a war on un-Christian sentiments?

Faking an illness is an accusation you would hurl at a third grader who wants to stay home from school. No matter what your politics, here’s a woman who has served her country as a first lady, senator, and secretary of state. What does it take to presume that someone is acting in good faith?

And in case you haven’t heard, attacking someone who’s ill speaks more to the character of the person doing the mocking.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer said Clinton was suffering from “acute Benghazi allergy.” Greg Gutfeld, co-host of Fox’s The Five, said: “How can she get a concussion when she has been ducking everything?”

On The O'Reilly FactorLaura Ingraham joked that this appeared to be an “immaculate concussion.” Bill O’Reilly chimed in, saying he thought Clinton could at least make a phone call.

Video screenshot

'Fox's 'The Five' co-host Greg Gutfeld wonders how Clinton could have a concussion 'when she's been ducking everything?''

Never mind that State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had already ripped the remarks by Bolton, a Fox contributor, labeling them “wild speculation based on no information.” The mockery continued.

Fox News wasn’t the only organization to make fun of Clinton’s supposed concussion. The “Benghazi flu” was coined by outgoing Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.). “I’m not a doctor, but it seems as though … the secretary of state has come down with a case of ‘Benghazi flu,’” he said. The New York Post—which, like Fox, is owned by Rupert Murdoch—ran a headline that screamed: “Hillary Clinton’s Head Fake.” But the tabloid later lambasted “cynics in the media and in Congress [who] sneered that Clinton was faking the concussion to avoid testimony about the attack for not believing her.” Now that’s a world-class 180 off the high board.

And vicious tweeters trumpeted her alleged fig leaf:

@kathlena1: “Where’s Hillary? (In hiding with the #Benghazi flu to avoid jail?)”

@Center_Right: “I love it! Hillary has Benghazi Flu! It comes from simply falling down. No immunization available. How conveeenient!”

Now that the news of the blood clot has surfaced, the Twitterverse has turned on the haters, demanding apologies from the skeptics who had rallied against her. Politico compiled a robust list, including one from Ingraham: “My 12/24 Tweet: Heard from some1 v.close to Sec.Clinton—she did take a bad fall, she was instructed 2rest. Her testimony WILL happen. #Heal.”

Doctors now say the location of the clot—between Clinton’s skull and brain—should mean she’s out of the woods and will make a full recovery. Whew. Fire up your inner pit bull; you’ll still have her to kick around.

I don’t mind criticism for performance. A cabinet member is fair game. The attack in Libya was deeply troubling. Those protected by the First Amendment can and should shine a bright light on politicians who make mistakes, or cheat the system. And Clinton’s illness doesn’t mean she should get a pass if she wades back into presidential politics.

But for now, give the woman a break. And please, amateur physicians and Hillary haters, act like adults and say you’re sorry.

Editor's note: In an earlier version of this article, Greta Van Susteren was incorrectly quoted as joking that Hillary Cilnton had had an "immaculate concussion." In fact, that phrase was used by Laura Ingraham. We apologize for the error.