Hillary Clinton supposedly has Parkinson’s disease, syphilis, brain damage, a brain tumor, autism, a degenerative disease that is giving her seizures and/or strokes, and a blood clot, according to InfoWars writer Paul Joseph Watson. Oh, and he says she has a drug problem.
All of these diagnoses—save for Parkinson’s, which commanded a separate full-length article—came in a single one of Watson’s YouTube videos released on Thursday. It now has over 1.6 million views at press time.
“Weird seizures. Psychotic facial tics. Over-exaggerated reactions. Coughing fits. Strange lesions on her tongue. Is Hillary on the verge of a mental breakdown due to stress, or are her strange outbursts linked to a medical condition?” Watson posits.
Watson’s compendium of illnesses began on the fringe and quickly made its way into the talking points of Trump surrogates over the weekend. The Drudge Report posted a photo of Clinton tripping up the stairs above the tagline “2016: Hillary Conquers the Stairs,” along with references to a blood clot in 2012 and a broken elbow in 2009. The photo, which went unnoticed at the time, was taken in February.
The National Enquirer posted a story dubbed “Hillary Clinton’s Secret Health Crisis” on Monday. Donald Trump said in March that “you can’t knock the National Enquirer” when the tabloid aimed to tie Ted Cruz’s father to the JFK assassination, and the GOP candidate has written op-eds for the paper in the past.
By midday on Monday, the No. 2 trending Google search about Hillary Clinton was: “Is Hillary having health problems?”
Fox News’ Sean Hannity devoted a section of his program to the rumors of bad health Monday night. CNN’s Jeffrey Lord then doubled down on national TV, saying that “Donald Trump is willing to point out other things people have been pointing out for years” when asked about Clinton’s health.
Those "people" are, in this case, writers like Watson, who certainly isn’t the first to question Hillary’s health in the last few months—Trump supporters have created YouTube compilations of each time she’s coughed at campaign events—but is one of the most prominent. Watson is a writer at InfoWars and sometimes cohost of InfoWars’ creator Alex Jones’ radio and YouTube shows. His own offshoot website, PrisonPlanet, runs a YouTube channel with nearly a half-million subscribers.
Within minutes of posting to Youtube, Watson’s video was at the top of /r/The_Donald, a heavily moderated Reddit community that serves as a clearinghouse for pro-Trump talking points and conspiracies against Clinton. Since Trump’s Ask Me Anything Q-and-A on the subreddit two weeks ago (in which thousands of users were banned for asking policy questions), the site has been overrun with conspiracy theories about how “FRAIL HILLARY” is “PHYSICALLY UNFIT” for the presidency.
When asked if Clinton could really have all of the diseases that he claims she is currently fighting, Watson told The Daily Beast via email that he wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know what she has, I am not a neurologist or a psychiatrist, I merely pointed to the statements of people who are,” he wrote. “Several of them have argued that Hillary is physically sick, while virtually everyone who has the guts to talk about how Hillary behaves in private says she acts like a sociopath, has no emotions, is completely cold, rude and is supremely arrogant.”
Isn’t this, then, the equivalent of WebMD’ing yourself for perceived symptoms and coming up with the wildest fantasy imaginable?
“I didn’t ‘WedMD’ anything. I spoke to health experts in private and I collated statements made by health professionals that were already part of the public record,” he said.
One of the rare “experts” Watson cites on record is Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical executive who raised the price of the lifesaving HIV drug Daraprim by over 5,000 percent overnight and is currently out on bail after being indicted on charges of securities fraud.
Shkreli, who resigned as the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals in December, is the lone source in the article “Pharmaceutical Exec: Hillary Clinton Has Parkinson’s Disease.” Shkreli does not have a medical degree, but does have a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Baruch College.
Watson’s article appeared on InfoWars.com, which has run with a series of conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health this week. Stories like “Proof Hillary Clinton Unfit to Be President,” “Hillary Loses It—Seems Like Momentary Blackout or Dizzy Spell” and “Hillary Clinton Is Disintegrating Before Our Eyes” littered Infowars’ homepage on Tuesday.
In December, Donald Trump appeared on a video podcast for InfoWars, which regularly publishes stories alleging that mass shooting events like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre are elaborate ploys by the government to take away America’s guns.
“Your reputation’s amazing. I will not let you down,” Trump told InfoWars’ Alex Jones. “You will be very, very impressed, I hope. I think we’ll be speaking a lot.”
Watson does, in fact, cite a real health problem for which Clinton was hospitalized four years ago.
“I also highlighted the fact that Hillary admittedly had significant health problems back in 2012,” Watson said.
Clinton suffered from a blood clot in December of 2012, from which doctors say she fully recovered after surgery. At the time of the surgery, both GOP campaign strategist Karl Rove and noted pro-Trump ally and conspiracy theorist Roger Stone immediately seized on the blood clot as proof she wouldn’t or shouldn’t run for president.
"@HillaryClinton not running for health reasons,” Stone tweeted in 2012. “Remember you heard it first from the#StoneZone.” This week, Stone said that Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin are connected to the 9/11 attacks.
New rumors began popping up about the fitness of candidates on both sides of the aisle over the weekend. While prominent rightwing blog Gateway Pundit guessed that Hillary Clinton was somehow covertly injected with a Diazepam pen to control a seizure during one of her speeches (Secret Service agents were really stepping onto the stage to protect against a protester), comedian Patton Oswalt shared a story about speaking with a therapist friend who claimed Trump has borderline personality disorder.
“I would suggest that Hillary is more of a sociopath than Trump,” Watson wrote. ”Trump may be an egomaniac, but he didn’t support policies in Iraq, Libya and Syria that led to the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, three failed states and an international migrant crisis. And he didn’t laugh about it on video either.”
Of course, Trump supported military intervention in both Iraq and Libya long before he didn’t.
But, to Watson, those facts are just part of the establishment conspiracy to take down Trump.
After all, last Thursday, Watson published an InfoWars article dubbed “New Establishment Smear Campaign to Declare Trump ‘Mentally Unfit’ to Be President.’
His very next story? “Experts: Hillary Is a Sociopath and Could Have Brain Damage.” That expert is not named in the article.