“Fake News,” that trill from the president and his minions, is the most overused and vapid of all their counterarguments. Usually, it holds zero merit because it is used only to ignore proven facts, shield substantiated lies and move the subject away from a far more dangerous and occasionally impeachable offense.
There are times, however, when the media and others fall face-first into the Trump “fake news” trap.
After watching White House Physician Dr. Ronny Jackson’s press conference on the president’s mental health, here are three takeaways: the president is healthy for a man of his age, and he isn’t medically insane. In fact, Dr. Jackson said he is in “excellent health.” Another takeaway from the press conference? How hard the media is reaching to find something medically wrong with the president. Their questions and subsequent think-pieces have ranged from nitpicking to passive-aggressive attempts to question the doctor’s integrity.
David Axelrod, a senior advisor in the Obama administration, tweeted, “I knew Dr. Ronny Jackson in the White House. In my experience, he was very good guy and straight shooter.” This endorsement, of course, does not lend credence to Dr. Jackson being a bought-and-paid shill for the Trump administration.
Continuing to go down this road of poor mental and physical health without evidence—or worse, with evidence of the contrary—is akin to chasing rabbits and does a disservice to real issues. It also uncomfortably resembles the alt-right’s attempt to discredit Hillary Clinton’s candidacy by claiming she was too sick to be president.
Not to mention, rehashing a reliable report of a rear admiral who has been the White House’s leading doctor since 2013 is an incredible waste of resources and talent. It gives confidence to Trump and his company’s argument that the administration isn’t treated fairly and allows his supporters a free pass to stick their collective heads in the sand whenever genuine, meaningful matters arise.
Honest media and progressives have to avoid being cast as radical ideologues whose only focus is to be contrarian. The story of Trump’s mental acuity, and how it has been framed, is a step back in that dream. Turning every story that doesn’t fit your narrative into a conspiracy or coverup is exactly what progressives railed against for President Barack Obama’s entire eight-year term.
Even so, before Mr. and Mrs. MAGA celebrate the fact that the media is sometimes fake, we should examine another fact Dr. Jackson’s press conference revealed: if Trump isn’t medically insane, that means he’s truly a meanspirited, spiteful, bigoted and (from the evidence we’ve seen) evil man. The things he says, does and advocates for are all the more worse now that we know they’re not medically induced. Dr. Jackson’s report means that the man behind phrases like grab ‘em by the pussy and shithole countries is just that unruly. Every decision he makes, slur he speaks and woman he harasses is intentional. In other words, being mentally stable doesn’t mean you have automatically have a conscience.