On a radio show this week, Dr. Drew Pinsky of Celebrity Rehab fame added his name to the long list of conspiracy theorists who believe that Hillary Clinton’s health could be failing—a list that so far includes the National Enquirer, Fox News host Sean Hannity, InfoWars writer Paul Joseph Watson, Tucson-based nonprofit leader Dr. Jane Orient, Donald Trump, and seemingly anyone on the “alt-right” with a Twitter account.
If that’s not a dream team of medical experts, what is?
In a Tuesday interview on KABC’s McIntyre in the Morning, Dr. Pinsky said that he and Biggest Loser physician Dr. Robert Huizenga, who also treats Charlie Sheen, had “dispassionately sat and evaluated the medical record that [Clinton] had released.” “Based on the information that she has provided and her doctors have provided, we were gravely concerned not just about her health but her health care,” Pinsky said.
Pinsky went on to critique the medicines that Clinton’s doctors have used to treat her hypothyroidism and claimed that her 2012 transverse sinus thrombosis, a rare kind of blood clot, “essentially guarantees that somebody has something wrong with their coagulation system.” Then he claimed that the prism glasses Clinton briefly wore after her 2012 concussion are “a sign of brain damage” and that the concussion is “affecting her balance.”
“You gotta wonder,” Pinsky said, clarifying much too late that he was more concerned about Clinton’s health care than her physical condition.
Pinsky did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment and clarification. The celebrity doctor’s comments breathed new life into the already-rampant Clinton health conspiracy theories, giving the Fox & Friends crew an excuse to talk about them on Thursday morning. Co-host Brian Kilmeade chimed in with the choice observation that Clinton was wearing the prism glasses when she made the much-criticized “What difference at this point does it make?” comment during a Benghazi hearing.
“That’s when she had those glasses on,” he said, as if unraveling some great mystery.
It took Newt Gingrich, of all people, to shut the speculation down on Fox & Friends, as TPM noted.
“With all due respect to television doctors, when you have a doctor who has never seen the patient, [begin] to give you a complicated, fancy-sounding analysis based on what?” the former Speaker of the House said. “I mean, I would be very cautious and I would recommend to doctors for professional reasons to be very cautious before you start analyzing people.”
Pinsky’s comments also come shortly after rabid Clinton opponents had a field day with a Drudge Report item which highlighted her use of pillows for back support and claimed that she was being “propped up” during public appearances.
If you want to believe that Hillary Clinton is dying, it’s a good time to be on the internet. But if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t count decontextualized videos and ‘gotcha’ photos as medical evidence, it’s a frustrating time to be alive.
The only record that was available for Pinsky and his Biggest Loser colleague to review is a page-and-a-half letter from Dr. Lisa Bardack, Clinton’s physician at Mount Kisco Medical Group. That letter concludes that the former Secretary of State is “a healthy female with hypothyroidism and seasonal allergies, on long-term anticoagulation.”
Indeed, all of Pinsky’s “grave” concerns are already addressed in the record that he claims to have “dispassionately” evaluated. In it, Dr. Bardack notes that the prism glasses were used to treat “double vision” for two months after the concussion, and then discontinued. There is no mention of any other “brain damage.” And the rare blood clot was also addressed three years ago.
“She had follow-up testing in 2013, which revealed complete resolution of the effects of the concussion as well as total dissolution of the thrombosis,” the letter states. “Clinton also tested negative for all clotting disorders.”
Clinton takes the anticoagulant Coumadin as “a precaution” at a dose that is “monitored regularly,” in case Pinsky is concerned about her coagulation system.
And although the letter makes no mention of the “balance” issues that Pinsky claims Clinton is experiencing, the far-right internet is circulating a photo of the Democratic nominee holding onto an aide’s hand while standing on a raised platform. Never mind that there are at least three photos from the same event of Clinton standing completely unassisted on the same platform—in heels, no less.
The same Twitter trolls recently fell in love with a photo showing Clinton supposedly having difficulty ascending a flight of stairs. The Getty caption for that image, however, provides the much-needed context: “Hillary Clinton slips as she walks up the stairs.”
All available evidence—no matter what the motley crew of Trump, Dr. Drew, Sean Hannity, and the National Enquirer have to say—suggests that Clinton’s health issues are under control. But it’s certainly telling that so many people are willing to believe that a woman with so much political strength must be physically weak.