During a visit to the September 11 memorial, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton abruptly left the ceremony after feeling ill. A disquieting video later showed her wobbling and nearly collapsing as she was being helped into a secret service fan.
Few hours later, Clinton’s doctor released a statement that Clinton has pneumonia, and the wobbling was caused by “overheating” in the hot New York weather. (Forecast showed the weather was in the 80s).
So what are we to make of this? There are two angles, and both of them are correct. But each paints an entirely different picture.
First is the “unfit to serve” narrative. For months, conservatives have raised questions about her fitness, pointing to her “coughing fits” as examples of serious health conditions.
The Clinton campaign has repeatedly denied claims of her health problems as “conspiracy theory,” saying she has no health complications.
The recent incidence proved that to be false. She does have health complications, and it’s completely reasonable to question a presidential nominee’s fitness. Imagine if a president faints or heave serious medical issues while handling a terrorism crisis, or during a negotiation with a foreign country.
From this point of view, the incidence is negative for the Clinton campaign, as it legitimizes questions about her heath.
The second is the “braved through the cold” narrative. Moments after near collapse, the campaign released a statement saying she was “overheated and dehydrated.”
Few hours later, her doctor followed up with another statement saying that she was diagnosed with pneumonia prior to the event and was “advised to rest and modify her schedule.”
From this vantage point, Clinton braved through the public memorial event despite having pneumonia and being placed on antibiotics. Anyone can get pneumonia, and it’s a pretty treatable but nasty disease. The fact that she drudged through all of that says something about her.
Whereas the first portrays her as a weak and feeble person who can’t stand prolonged heat, the second portrays her as a strong and persistent person who chose put the public interest over her own health.
Neither narrative is more correct than the other, as they are both factually correct. Whichever narrative you believe, it’s important to note that the facts do not support a particular narrative. Rather, narratives are constructed out of a combination personal opinions supported by cherry-picked facts.
A lot of people expect journalists to provide “objective coverage,” or reporting based only on the absolute facts. This is impossible.
It’s not because journalists are malicious and agenda driven people. But because anytime you say something, you’re choosing not to say something else, and not saying something can sometimes say a lot. (Is that confusing enough?)
If you don’t believe that silence is inconsequential, just Google the phrase “why isn’t the media covering this” and you’ll know what I mean.
The constraints of language make it nearly impossible to describe any event objectively. A glass can be half full, and it can also be half empty. The car can be speeding down the highway, and it can also be driving slow relative to the other cars.
Clinton can be very sick, and she can also brave a public event despite being sick.
People have the tendency to believe their narrative is the “correct” one because it’s based on facts, and each side is scandalized at the thought that the other side has a different narrative.
Regardless of which version you believe, be aware that there are different narratives out there, and often times they’re all correct.