For a guy who’s been so cagey about releasing his own medical records, Donald Trump sure is quick to pass judgment on his opponent’s health. In an interview on Thursday, campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson publicly diagnosed Hillary Clinton with dysphasia, a language disorder characterized by speech and comprehension issues, citing the presidential candidate’s “mannerisms” and previous “concussion” as conclusive proof. Pierson’s diagnosis is the latest in a rash of baseless, conspiratorial observations the Trump campaign has made about Clinton’s allegedly failing health.
Pierson is not, by any stretch of the imagination, anything remotely resembling a physician or psychologist. (Clinton has those, and they’ve confirmed that she’s doing just fine.) To diagnose Clinton with dysphasia, Pierson would probably first need an advanced degree in speech-language pathology, then she’d need access to the presidential candidate for an extensive battery of tests to assess just how badly her language skills have deteriorated.
In short, even a physician couldn’t diagnose Clinton on the basis of her television appearances.
That hasn’t stopped Pierson and Fox News medical correspondent Marc Siegel from picking apart any verbal errors or errant pauses Clinton has made in her speeches. In an interview last week on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, Siegel alleged that Clinton had aphasia, another term for dysphasia, speculating that Clinton’s inability to find the right words was representative of the effects of “traumatic brain injury or the after-effects of a concussion.”
Siegel isn’t wrong — the loss of facility with language is a sign of dysphasia/aphasia, which is largely caused by injury to the brain — but to conclude that Clinton was suffering from the condition was just bad science altogether.
Of course, medical rigor means little to armchair physicians from both the Republican and Democratic camps. Rumors that Clinton also suffers from Parkinson’s disease or deadly blood clots have circulated alongside speculation that Trump has serious personality disorders ranging from narcissism to sociopathy.
What groundless diagnoses will the media’s so-called medical experts make next? Well, now that the entire country has seen a life-size replica of Trump’s naked physique, we probably won’t have to wait long to find out.