NBC News and reporter Andrew Rafferty were attacked by Hillary Clinton’s traveling press secretary and by two former Obama White House senior officials for reporting on the coughing fit by the Democratic presidential nominee at a Cleveland Labor Day rally. The Clinton front group Media Matters also attacked NBC for its report. The article likely caught the wrath of the Democratic operatives because it was the lead story on the Drudge Report on Monday with the headline, “GETTING WORSE: CLINTON COUGH VIOLENTLY RETURNS”
Clinton’s coughing fit lasted for over four minutes and wrecked her voice as she struggled to complete her speech. Later on Monday during a press gaggle on board her new campaign plane, another coughing fit forced Clinton to break off the mini-press conference and walk back to her cabin. Clinton returned several minutes later to take more questions after her cough subsided.
On Monday afternoon NBC News posted a five paragraph report with a brief video clip on Clinton’s coughing fit with the title, “Hillary Clinton Fights Back Coughing Attack.”
The article included two mentions, one by Clinton during her speech and another by aides afterward, that blamed the coughing fit on allergies. The article also accurately reported Clinton has had bouts of coughing during the campaign.
What followed in response was textbook press intimidation by Democratic party operatives that tried to publicly shame, bully and ‘other’ NBC and Rafferty to stop them and fellow reporters and news outlets from pursuing stories on Clinton’s health.
Clinton traveling pres secretary Nick Merrill went after Rafferty in a personal snark on Twitter late Monday night.
Get a life.
— Nick Merrill (@NickMerrill) September 6, 2016
“Dear @AndrewNBCNews- Get a life. Thanks. Nick”
Merrill attacked Rafferty in the context of a tweet by MSNBC analyst Jonathan Alter that criticized the NBC report.
Hillary Clinton Fights Back Coughing Attack https://t.co/bYmoi7hSxD via @nbcnews I love my colleagues at NBC but this ain't news.
— Jonathan Alter (@jonathanalter) September 6, 2016
“Hillary Clinton Fights Back Coughing Attack http://nbcnews.to/2cuiu7O via @nbcnews I love my colleagues at NBC but this ain’t news.”
Dan Pfeiffer, a former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama called on NBC to apologize for reporting on Clinton’s coughing fit.
Will be very curious to see whether NBC tries to justify this crap or just does the right thing and apologizes https://t.co/B7lguJs7yM
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) September 6, 2016
“Will be very curious to see whether NBC tries to justify this crap or just does the right thing and apologizes”
Pfeiffer keyed off a tweet by New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik that sharply criticized the NBC report.
“A person coughed. It’s news only bc of a context of rumor, which NBC is indulging. This is how institutions fail.”
Pfeiffer also retweeted Democratic pollster Matt McDermott who called the NBC article “embarrassing.”
This is just an embarrassing article. Seriously, can't believe this is its own story. https://t.co/nFg7RJ7fid pic.twitter.com/znjk9KZpC8
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) September 6, 2016
“This is just an embarrassing article. Seriously, can’t believe this is its own story. http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/hillary-clinton-struggles-fight-back-coughing-attack-n643026?cid=sm_twitter_feed_politics …”
Former Chief Speechwriter for President Obama Jon Favreau tried to shame NBC by calling the article indefensible.
“Is there anyone at NBC, or anywhere else, who’s willing to defend this story?”
Favreau followed up his attack on NBC with a mocking tweet based a Drudge Report pick up of an article noting Clinton was handed a ‘special glass of water’ during a coughing fit while she already held a bottled water.
Trending: James O’Keefe Strikes Again! O’Keefe Media Group Exposes MASSIVE Democrat Party Money Laundering Scheme in US Elections
“Hey @NBCNews, you might want to follow up on this so Drudge and Breitbart don’t scoop you again”
“MYSTERY: Clinton handed special water glass — while holding bottle of H2O…”
Media Matters, founded by Clinton ally David Brock, went after NBC with an article headlined, “NBC News Mainstreams Conspiracy Theories About Hillary Clinton’s Health.”
…”The NBC News report was embraced by right-wing media figures, who have spent years pushing conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health. The Drudge Report linked to the NBC News story on its banner, blaring the headline: “GETTING WORSE: CLINTON COUGH VIOLENTLY RETURNS,” adding Clinton’s “HEALTH STATUS UP IN THE AIR.” The story was also tweeted out by conservative media figures, with Fox Business host Lou Dobbs writing that “it’s time for answers” about Clinton’s health:..”
FishbowlDC echoed Media Matter’s headline in going after NBC, “Clinton Cough Conspiracy Theory Gets an Assist From NBC News.”
“Yesterday was Labor Day, a time to rest, toss a ball around, let those steaks on the grill develop an optimal char, and whatever else people do on the last (symbolically speaking) day of summer. But not everyone. For some, Labor Day was just another work day on the campaign trail, another day for speeches, another day to report on those speeches, another day for a conspiracy theory to go mainstream media, via an NBC News item headlined “Hillary Clinton Fights Back Coughing Attack.”
What also peeved FishbowlDC was the Drudge Report lead all day Tuesday.
“As everyone who is not a doctor and likes to use common conditions as proof of some grave underlying illness knows, coughing is really dangerous, especially if you do it more than once in your life and someone puts it into a Brady Bunch-style collage. I mean, how serious and incontrovertible does this Drudge Report collection look?”
Videos of Clinton’s coughing fits from Monday.
Cleveland Labor Day speech.
Press gaggle on Hill Force One.