Usually, our “objective” media thrives on any internal fighting and panic among Republicans, and downplays or hides it on the Democratic side. NPR analyst Cokie Roberts violated that informal policy on Monday’s Morning Edition, openly suggesting Democrats were talking about replacing Hillary Clinton on the ticket over her health problems.
DAVID GREENE, anchor: Cokie, let me start with you. The medical event that we saw from Hillary Clinton, how is - how are Democrats responding to this right now?
COKIE ROBERTS: Well, people are angry at the lack of transparency. It was hours before the pneumonia diagnosis was revealed, after seeing this incredibly damaging video of her being helped and stumbling into a van. And, look, there's a reason why the campaign's not transparent. Obviously, it gives Trump ammunition. And he's been setting her up for this for months.
I mean, back in January, he started saying that she didn't have the strength and stamina to be president. And he knew at some point in the campaign schedule that she, like all candidates, would get exhausted. But the fact that it comes now, when the polls are tightening and Democrats were already saying that Hillary was the only candidate who could not beat Trump - and it's taking her off of the campaign trail, canceling her trip to California today...
GREENE: Yeah, today. Yeah.
ROBERTS: Right. It has them very nervously beginning to whisper about find -- having her step aside and finding another candidate.
Knowing this loose-lipped talk wouldn’t go over well, Roberts started insisting it was just idle chit-chat:
ROBERTS: I think it's unlikely to be a real thing. And I'm sure it's an overreaction of an already skittish party. But, you know, they have looked at what happens in that circumstance. And the Democratic National Committee chair convenes the committee, and they vote. Now, ironically, the candidate that everybody looks at is Joe Biden, who, of course, is older than Hillary Clinton. But then again, so is Donald Trump. And, by the way, we know nothing about his health.
In this campaign season, NPR has actually brought in a more conservative voice to balance out its veteran liberal analyst. Conservative critic (and winner of our Noel Sheppard Award) Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist ably took after the media after Greene tried to bring NPR’s hate object Fox News into the discussion:
GREENE: Mollie, let me turn to you. I mean, this health, you know, has been long the talk on right-leaning talk shows on Fox News. I mean, are people on the right seeing this as a significant problem for Hillary Clinton?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: Well, I think it certainly shows that concerns about Hillary Clinton's health were legitimate and should have been treated as such by the mainstream media. Many people had treated any and all questions about her health as conspiracy theories, as - you know, some people did develop some conspiracy theories about her health. But any questions about her health were treated that way.
You had major media openly dismissing it. CNN said that Hillary Clinton's health was fine. And last week, The Washington Post ran a piece saying, can we please stop talking about Hillary Clinton's health? That downplaying and protection of her ultimately, I think, was less helpful to her.
GREENE: But what do we - what are they downplaying? I mean, this was a bout of pneumonia that the doctor says, you know, she's still fit. I mean, it's - there's no sign that there is anything significant.
HEMINGWAY: Right, there are many - very many different versions of events of what's going on with Hillary. At first, it was allergies - well, first it was nothing. Then it was allergies. Then she just was overheated yesterday. Then she came out and said she was fine. Now we're told that it's pneumonia.
I think it's incumbent upon journalists to really dig into that and make sure that that fully explains the troubling collapse that we all witnessed on video yesterday.
GREENE: Worth also to dig into the Donald Trump's campaign, right? I mean, it...
ROBERTS: Mollie's also right, though, that they keep doing this. They don't - you know, if they just told the truth the first time, it would be a whole lot easier for them.
GREENE: Fair, what Cokie said, Mollie, that we don't know much about Donald Trump's health either?
HEMINGWAY: Oh, absolutely. I don't think we've ever known so little about either candidate.
Like other liberal outlets, NPR wanted to turn this into a transparency problem for both sides. Still, the Left was unhappy. At Bustle.com, the headline was "Cokie Roberts Makes a Hillary Clinton Claim That Health Truthers Will Love." Hillary fans on Twitter were also angry: