WikiLeaks Plays Doctor, Gives Hillary Clinton Fake Disease

With conspiracists and Trump surrogates pushing the ‘Clinton is dying’ story, WikiLeaks decided to wade in with an old email citing ‘decision fatigue’ as evidence of illness.

Mark Makela/Reuters

On Sunday, after combing through Hillary Clinton’s publicly released emails for any signs of illness, WikiLeaks stumbled upon what appeared to be a hidden diagnosis. Clinton was even looking into taking pills to fix it.

“Clinton & ‘decision fatigue.’ 2 months later looked into wakeup pills,” WikiLeaks tweeted. The Twitter account then pointed to two of Clinton’s emails, which have been searchable on WikiLeaks’s website since March.

The organization doubled down on its “discovery” on Monday morning. “Clinton looked at drug after suffering from ‘decision fatigue,’” it tweeted.

In the email, sure enough, Clinton responds to a New York Times article about the sometimes paralyzing “decision fatigue.”

“Wow that is spooky descriptive,” she wrote to an aide on Aug. 19, 2011. It looks like a smoking gun.

There is one problem, however: “Decision fatigue” is not an illness. It is a consumer behavior term for the feeling you get when you’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of options at, say, Costco.

In one of the most famous papers on decision fatigue, subjects—or maybe we should call them sufferers—are observed on their “willpower to resist the Mars bars and Skittles” at the supermarket.

That’s right: According to WikiLeaks, Hillary Clinton is dying of the effects of her many years as a bargain shopaholic.

Jonathan Levav helped popularize the term earlier this decade, when his work on decision fatigue—and how it might affect court rulings—was featured prominently in the Times story Clinton read in 2011.

Levav holds a Ph.D.—in marketing.

“This WikiLeaks idea that decision fatigue is a ‘disease’ with some kind of medical cure is somewhere between hilarious and ridiculous,” he told The Daily Beast. “No, it’s not a medical condition.”

But it’s proof she’s presenting symptoms of something much bigger, right?

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

Daily Digest

Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast.

Cheat Sheet

A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don't).

By clicking “Subscribe,” you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason.

“Decision fatigue is just the name for a phenomenon,” said Levav, who’s an associate professor of marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business. “We don’t really know if people are literally getting tired.”

These facts, of course, will not deter much of anybody who already believes in the conspiracy that Clinton is dying of an unknown illness. Conspiracy theories planted by fringe websites about Clinton’s health made their way into the talking points of Donald Trump campaign surrogates like Corey Lewandowski and Rudy Giuliani last week.

Giuliani even implored citizens to “do an internet search for ‘Hillary Clinton illness,’” which will bring those googlers directly to a video that alleges she has everything from Parkinson’s to syphilis to brain cancer to autism, and sometimes all of them at once, according to a video on YouTube viewed 3 million times this month alone. That video is hosted on InfoWars, a website owned by Alex Jones, who once alerted his audience to a secret government program producing “people with gills” and “humanoids crossed with fish.”

Since WikiLeaks published 20,000 hacked Democratic National Committee emails shortly before the Democratic National Convention—ones that showed some committee staffers openly rooted for Clinton while floating potential smears against primary rival Bernie Sanders—those tweeting from the organization’s account have taken what many outlets consider to be a pro-Trump stance. The FBI, along with most independent defense experts, believe the DNC hack was carried out by Russia.

Russia's Kremlin-backed propaganda arm Sputnik was fast to jump on Wikileaks’ "decision fatigue" diagnosis. “Clinton Emails Discuss Whether to Take Drug Used to Treat ‘Decision Fatigue,’” Sputnik’s wire service wrote on Tuesday. InfoWars quickly followed suit.

WikiLeaks did not respond to a request for comment.

On Wednesday night, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that he will “absolutely” be releasing more documents about Clinton’s campaign before Election Day.

“I don’t want to give the game away, but it’s a variety of different types of documents from different types of institutions that are associated with the election campaign,” he said.

Last week, WikiLeaks tweeted a poll asking its followers who would win the 2016 election. Trump won that poll, 59 percent to Clinton’s 16 percent. A day later, WikiLeaks cited its own poll as a “significant increase in online Trump support”—echoing Trump surrogates, who took to Fox and CNN to disavow the accuracy of traditional polling during that same week.

This week, WikiLeaks pushed the Trump campaign’s new talking point: debunked claims about Clinton’s health. The group tweeted about an alleged illness three times on Monday, as websites like The Drudge Report and Breitbart, and Fox News’ Sean Hannity pointed to pictures of Hillary Clinton sitting on pillows to prove that she is infirm, or wearing a catheter, or riddled with syphilis.

It’s impossible to know which disease she has, as WikiLeaks and other Trump surrogates appear to have an acute case of decision fatigue.

“I guess I should be careful challenging WikiLeaks, lest all my emails get leaked,” Levav said.