PHOTO: Hillary Clinton at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 39th Annual Gala Dinner on Thursday
The furor over Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia has come and gone, with the Democratic nominee for the US Presidency back on the campaign trail. The media have jumped to new provocative headlines, such as Republican candidate Donald Trump’s refusal to state that President Obama was born in the US and his insinuations about Clinton’s assassination.
But the pneumonia affair has pointed to wider concerns about both the campaign and the coverage. In the era of social media, outlets are jumping from one whipped-up drama — usually started by the latest provocative declaration of Trump — to the next. Meanwhile, little attention is paid to the significant political, economic, and social issues.
Christina Okello of Radio France International talks to analysts — including EA’s Scott Lucas — in her podcast and summary, “Hillary Clinton Pneumonia Coverage Misses Big Picture”.
It took one stumble, captured on camera at the 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York on Sunday, to trigger an avalanche of reactions over the state of Hillary Clinton’s health.
“When Clinton coughs, we get a cold”, Scott Lucas, a professor at Birmingham Universiy, told RFI.
Media across the political and geographical spectrum, seized on the episode to question whether or not Clinton will survive.
The Democratic presidential nominee was filmed losing her footing and being assisted into a waiting van after leaving early from a memorial for 9/11 victims.
She’d been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier.
“Can you think of a single in-depth story about the issue of health care in the 2016 campaign?” asks Lucas.
“We’re only one or two years removed from perhaps one of the most comprehensive reforms of the American health care system in history —- ObamaCare,” instead the media are talking about Clinton’s health problems, he complains.
Kinda Kanbar, a Washington correspondent for Arab newspaper Alarab shares similar concerns: “As journalists, we feel like we’re in a trap, that we’re following the nonsense that is appearing on social media.”
Nonsense for some, but for others the health of US presidents and future leaders is paramount.
“The question is always asked,” says France 24 correspondent Philip Crowther, “and it is an awkward one: is the person running for President, fit enough to be President and to stay in office without any health trouble for the next four and potentially eight years?”
“It is very very hard for the Washington correspondents or the reporters on the election trail to be able to define a story now,” reckons Lucas.
“There just simply isn’t the time and space because before you know it your readers have already gone elsewhere.”