Candidate’s Health: Do We Really Need To Know Everything?


Mia Hernandez, Reporter

Hillary Clinton’s recent bout of pneumonia and Donald Trump’s appearance on Dr. Oz have shined a spotlight on the issue of the health of presidents and presidential candidates. Yet this fascination with the health of our potential leaders is nothing new–Americans have been invested in the robustness of their candidates for the past one hundred and thirty years.

Other famous presidents who have notably suffered from various illnesses include Ronald Reagan, FDR, John F. Kennedy and Grover Cleveland. While in office, President Eisenhower had a massive heart attack which was the first incident that aroused the public’s concern as to the health of their presidents.

Some of the names on this list may be surprising as presidents such as FDR and Cleveland actively concealed their health problems from the public. The American people did not know about FDR’s polio diagnosis until his fourth term and Cleveland had his cancer surgery performed on a boat under the guise of a fishing trip.

It’s obvious that poor health of a president is considered a setback or even a danger to the nation based on the historical and current lengths that candidates go to to either keep their health records private or show the voters that they are in fact healthy.

In this presidential race, recent attention has been focused on the health of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, due to her pneumonia diagnosis. Following this discovery, the media and American people went bezerk. “Is she strong enough to be president?” “She’s too weak for office.” “Can she handle the presidency with her poor health?”

Fox News has speculated that Clinton’s pneumonia is contagious and may have been passed to constituents she was visiting days later. Some even theorized that Clinton had a body double appear for her later that day because she did not want to appear sickly.

Attesting to the sexism currently pervading American media, Clinton’s pneumonia was put under microscope lenses and every aspect of it has been analyzed and speculated on.

Despite disclosing a doctor’s note with multiple diagnostic tests months ago, Clinton is still expected to disclose every single detail of her health or else be lampooned by the media. While Clinton’s illness has received most of the recent news coverage, Donald Trump’s health has been discussed very little.

Towards the beginning of the presidential race, Trump released a doctor’s note asserting his health, but it was a measly four paragraphs, lacked medical terminology and contained no test results.

While disclosing chronic or serious illness may be relevant information for voters and the media to know, why are we expecting candidates to divulge every single cough or sneeze? A recent ABC news poll showed that only 39 percent of people said that the health of a candidate would have a major impact on who they vote for.   

In this 24-hour national media news cycle, the issue of candidate health has been blown massively out of proportion. So much so that Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, went on Dr. Oz to discuss his health.

A presidential candidate going on a “medical” TV show that merely peddles health products that are not endorsed or recommended by the rest of the scientific community detracts from the true issues of the election and instead focuses on a non issue for the sake of media attention.

Contrastingly, Hillary Clinton withheld her pneumonia diagnosis from the public possibly in an effort to maintain a public appearance of health. Her non disclosure strategy only backfired on her as conservative news pundits and voters alike attacked her for her inability to admit to even having a curable temporary illness. Her concealment of her illness only added to the laundry list of reasons why people do not trust her.

The question is: why is candidate health dominating the current media coverage when it has been shown to factor relatively little in a voter’s decision? Out of financial necessity, the modern news networks and media sensationalize stories like presidential candidate’s health in an effort to get more people watching and talking about their shows and networks.

Instead of disproportionately covering candidate health and scrutinizing the female nominee, the media needs to turn their attention to real policy issues relevant to the election. It’s time to move on. Take an Advil and get over it.