As Hillary Clinton’s path to the nomination becomes clearer, our favorite right-wingers have doubled down on the conspiracy theory that she has been—secretly—in exceedingly poor health since she suffered a concussion in 2012. What exactly wrong with her? You would not believe how many things.
Last week, Gawker noted that behatted news aggregator Matt Drudge had misspelled the word “prism” in a headline on top of his site. The headline referred to Clinton’s glasses, which have become a central prop in the increasingly loopy conspiracy theories.
These theories are promulgated by far-right fringe figures like Jerome Corsi at World Net Daily, but they’ve been amplified by people as mainstream as Karl Rove. They’re common knowledge to regular readers of Breitbart and the Daily Caller. The “Hillary Clinton is hiding a serious medical condition” theory has rapidly become an alternate conservative narrative of the election—it is, in other words, already the birtherism of 2016. How did that happen?
“The Benghazi flu”
This theory that Hillary Clinton is tricking the American public into thinking she is well enough to be president started, ironically, with a theory that she tricked the American public into thinking she was sick. The trouble began in December 2012, when Clinton got the stomach flu. She fainted, fell, and got a concussion as a result. The timing of all this was suspicious to many conservatives, because it happened right before Clinton was scheduled to testify about BENGHAZI.
The New York Post called Clinton’s concussion a “head fake,” while Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer referred to it on air as an “acute Benghazi allergy.” Allen West accused her of catching “the Benghazi flu,” and the Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher called on Clinton to release her medical reports.
Today, in 2016, we live in a different, insane vortex in which conservative conspiracy theorists think Clinton actually did suffer a terrible concussion that left her brain damaged and weak.
“If she really had some weird thing in the hospital, then it should prohibit her from ever being president”
None other than Glenn Beck started conservative conspiracy theorists on the tortured path they walk today. Two weeks after Clinton got the concussion, she suffered a related complication: a blood clot. Beck took to the airwaves a few months later to suggest that something more serious was going on.
“If she really had some weird thing in the hospital, then it should prohibit her from ever becoming president,” he said. “She shouldn’t be President of the United States if she going into the hospital for some sort of heart condition or brain condition or whatever she was in the hospital for, or was that just a scam so that we didn’t talk about [Benghazi]?”
Then, in May 2014, Karl Rove echoed Beck’s concerns in a speech that got picked up by Page Six. “Thirty days in the hospital?” he said. “And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”
By her account, Clinton spent three days in the hospital after doctors discovered her blood clot, and she wore special glasses for a few months afterward to correct double vision from the concussion. After Rove’s speech, Clinton assured Diane Sawyer in an interview that she fully recovered and suffered “no lingering effects” from the concussion or clot.
In 2015, Clinton released a letter from her doctor that said the same—she had recovered completely from the concussion and clot, but she continued to take an anticoagulant as a precaution. Her doctor also revealed in the letter that Clinton has hypothyroidism and seasonal allergies. “She is in excellent physical condition and fit to serve as President of the United States,” the doctor wrote.
“A flare up of problems from brain injury”
The theory that Clinton is unwell has expanded exponentially since 2014. Here are just some of the many ailments theorists have claimed she suffers from:
A brain injury. When Clinton took her famous bathroom break at a Democratic primary debate in December, Breitbart breathlessly reported that she was actually missing from the stage due to a “flare up of problems from brain injury.” A “law enforcement source”—aka retired NYPD officer and Blaze radio host John Cardillo—told Breitbart that he had heard from other law enforcement sources that Clinton had been getting “dizzy and disoriented” after speeches.
Vision problems. Both Matt Drudge and Jerome Corsi at World Net Daily have claimed that Clinton is wearing her prism (or in Drudge’s case, “prisim”) glasses again, signifying some kind of vision problems. Clinton has not responded to these claims.
A “bad heart.” Ed Klein, who has written multiple books about the Clintons, published this fall a gossipy Hillary Clinton takedown called Unlikeable. In it, he claimed that Clinton has an undisclosed “heart problem.” Drudge blared the news on his website with the following headline: “BOOK: HILLARY HAS A BAD HEART.”
Hypothyroidism. Clinton does have hypothyroidism, which she controls with thyroid hormone replacement, according to her doctor. Drudge still likes to say “hypothyroidism” a lot, however. In October, he tweeted, “Hillary health was biggest revelation at hearing. Coughing fit. Slow-speaking, obviously induced by meds. Choose not to believe if you must.” He added:
A cough. Yesterday, the Free Beacon got in on the conspiracy theory action by posting a supercut video of Clinton coughing during various hearings and speeches in the last couple years. What does it all mean? No one knows. The video is soundtracked by a Kelly Clarkson song, for some reason.
Neither Corsi nor the Free Beacon have explicitly said what Clinton’s coughing signifies, beyond the fact that she must be hiding something.
A urinary tract infection. In December, the Daily Caller determined that Clinton’s apparent symptoms—“fatigue, mood swings, swelling, weight gain, impaired judgment, confusion, slurring words, frequent urination, and bald spots”—mean she probably has a UTI.