Diagnosis: President Fit, Media Has Fits
You’d think hearing that our President is physically and mentally fit would be a good thing. Apparently it’s not, if you are member of the White House press corps or Morning Joe crew.
On Tuesday, White House physician Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson laid out in detail how Donald Trump is in “excellent health.”
The press room reacted with a disappointment bordering on the macabre. The reaction since is even worse.
The President’s in excellent health, particularly for a man his age. His cholesterol is a bit high and the 239-pounder admits he needs to lose 10-15 pounds. Trump, because of all the blabber about his mental health, requested a cognitive test. He nailed it 30 for 30. He doesn’t need much sleep, is blessed with great genetics and when aides are collapsing from exhaustion on foreign trips, he’s still raring to go.
However, the press hammered Jackson for an hour with questions that were variations on a theme: “You’re lying. When is the crazy SOB just going to die already?!”
A major focus was on Alzheimer’s. ABC’s Cecelia Vega led the charge: “Are you ruling out things like early onset Alzheimer’s? Are you looking at dementia-like symptoms?” The question spread like the flu. Just to name two: Margaret Brennan wondered if Jackson missed Trump’s (obvious to her) Alzheimers, given Trump’s age and Ronald Reagan. Sanjay Gupta also asked about “early stages of dementia.” (Ironically, one reporter suggested that repeating things was a sign of mental issues. If true, that whole room needs to get checked out STAT.)
Is Trump mentally fit to be President? Remember the one time he slurred some words? Did you do every test and procedure known to man to convincingly prove beyond every possible shadow of a doubt that he not only has all his marbles, but they’ve been polished and arranged according to color and clarity?
“Do you know his life expectancy span?” (We really do want to know when he’s going to die.)
“Can you explain to me how a guy who eats McDonald’s and KFC and drinks all those diet cokes and never exercises is in as good a shape as you say he’s in?” (Jackson: “It’s called genetics.”)
Certainly, Jackson was keeping something from the press. We just know it. CNN’s conspiratorial blowhard Jim Acosta, his busy brow arched: “There isn’t anything that’s a part of the president’s health records or his overall physical fitness or any medications that he’s taking that you’re not permitted to tell us? Is there anything you’re keeping from us for privacy reasons?” The answer was no. (I would have been temped to add, “But the sight of you does tend to make people around here nauseous.”)
One reporter shouted out, “Is he a drug addict?”
As Fit as the Smoker Obama?
One guy asked how Trump could become as “fit as Obama.” The same Obama who not only fought a smoking addiction, but by the end looked like he could be broken by a breeze. (Was Jackson ever asked how Obama’s coke and pot use impacted his cognitive abilities? How long before he hacked up a tar-filled lung? And God forbid anyone ask about Hillary Clinton’s health during the campaign, even as she was stumbling, sliding, cackling and collapsing coast to coast. And claiming memory loss during her FBI interview to boot.)
Another doozy that made The Federalist list of the 10 of the dumbest questions asked: Does Jackson keep count of how often the President plays golf? Because that what Rear Admirals with more decorations than a Christmas tree should be doing with their time.
It grew even more absurd: “Is he limited to one scoop of ice cream now?” “What’s his waist measurement?” “Does he wear dentures?” “Do you worry about how much TV he watches?” “Are you concerned about his Twitter use”?
The whole routine felt like a Saturday Night Live skit. You can imagine: “Can we televise next year’s colonoscopy live?” “Would you say chasing porn stars is good or bad for your health?” “Is it true he drinks the blood of Dreamers?”
Thankfully, Jackson has a great bedside manner. Those reporters could have turned Patch Adams into Chucky the Clown.
Afterward, the hits kept a’comin’.
Seeing a lot of skepticism over the idea that @realDonaldTrump weighs only 239 pounds. Would he step on a scale in public to prove it?
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) January 16, 2018
Dilanian is NBC’s intelligence and national security reporter. Insert heavyweight vs lightweight joke here.
CNN’s Jake Dapper also jumped on the fat-shame bandwagon, quickly tweeting that Trump is the 3rd heaviest president we’ve ever had. He then tweeted pictures of the top two: William Taft and Grover Cleveland.
The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin wanted to make sure the world knew that Trump’s cognitive test was not a psychiatric exam. The implication: “So go ahead and keep saying he’s as crazy as a loon.” Why not? Worked for the old Soviet Union.
CNN’s Brian Stelter seemed to concede the president is healthy as an ox and as sharp as a fox. (Thus, destroying the earlier narrative.) But in his view, that now doesn’t matter.
Here's how the next few hours will go. Trump supporters will say "Concerns about Trump's mental health were always absurd. Case closed now." The obvious response: "The Q's about fitness for office are serious. Someone could be sharp as a tack, but still unfit"
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 16, 2018
The Morning After
The sun rose and they were still at it. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta basically called Jackson a liar, insisting the president has heart disease. He’s likely to have a heart attack within 3-to-5 years. (And how many of their viewers went “Good!”?)
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni attacked the much-decorated doctor. He told CNN Jackson “seemed like a Trump fanboy.”
His Times colleague Maggie Haberman thinks the White House listed Trump at 6’3″, rather than 6’2″, so his weight wouldn’t mark him as obese.
New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio told MSNBC’s Morning Joe Wednesday that Trump’s actions “don’t suggest” he is sane.
Let’s talk sanity. Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski says Trump’s clean bill of health should worry Americans. “Because if he wasn’t healthy that would be a great excuse for his behavior. Now he has none. Which you can deduce other things that are far more nefarious and frightening.”
When a guest agreed, Brzezinski got more specific. “I’m disturbed that they say he’s cognitively healthy. I think the word ‘evil’ comes to mind.”
A Healthy Thought
Hearing that, one can’t help but think of black pots and kettles. Or Jesus’ call to remove the log from your own eye before dealing with the spec you see in someone else’s. What happened to the Bible’s request that we pray for our leaders? Or even the simple decency to be grateful someone is healthy?
Today we’ve got one cable channel breathlessly promoting that the President is a dead man walking. Another channel declaring him evil. And a vast media world that can think nothing but ill of the man.
That is the sickness found in the White House, Doc. It’s not in the Oval Office. It’s in the press room.
Note: If you missed the briefing or just need an entertaining reminder of how bats the press has gotten, here it is. Questions start at around the 10 minute mark.