At 12:25 p.m. today, the New York Times (also saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), covering an episode already widely known, reported that Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “abruptly left a ceremony in New York marking the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks before it concluded because she became ‘overheated,’ according to a campaign spokesman.”
Over two hours earlier, Rick Leventhal at Fox News was apparently the first broadcast news journalist to report the story from the scene. An hour later, when all of them surely knew that Leventhal’s story was accurate from photos and videos of the same scene from multiple angles of Mrs. Clinton’s difficult entry into her motorcade vehicle already posted at several well-known websites, one panelist on CNN’s Reliable Sources asserted that Leventhal was (still) taking a huge risk allegedly relying on “one source,” while another thought it was the perfect time to blast out the tired litany of terms the left — including, as we learned Friday evening, Mrs. Clinton herself — routinely throws at Republican candidate Donald Trump.
Here is Leventhal’s original report:
Transcript (beginning at 0:11; bolds are mine throughout this post):
RICK LEVENTHAL, FOX NEWS: As you know, there are many dignitaries gathered at the scene, including Republican nominee Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who was at Ground Zero, was there for the ceremony, and left, unexpectedly left early because of what appeared to be a medical episode.
I have a law enforcement source who was there who was 15 feet away from Hillary Clinton. He said she was standing on a curb with her protective detail waiting for her motorcade. They were surprised to see her because she wasn’t supposed to be leaving yet. So they had to wait for the motorcade two or three minutes.
When it finally rolled up, my source says she stumbled off the curb, appeared to faint, lost one of her shoes, that wound up underneath the van. Her protective detail I’m told helped her into that van, and then the van took off, presumably in the direction of a hospital. They grabbed her shoe and flagged down her, the rest of her detail. Her shoe was given to that detail who was following the other two vehicles, and they left Ground Zero early, just moments ago because of an apparent medical episode that Hillary Clinton was suffering.
It’s not terribly hot today, John. It was warm, certainly warm and warm at the scene. But again, Hillary Clinton, my source who was 15 feet away, says she appeared to be having some sort of medical episode, had to be helped into her van, and left the, left Ground Zero early before the ceremony ended apparently, because of a medical problem.
The only flaw in Leventhal’s report is his reference to Mrs. Clinton “presumably” going to a hospital. That didn’t happen, but the reporter appropriately qualified his statement, because he didn’t know where she was headed.
In the second video, viewers will first see the normally level-headed David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun getting a case of the vapors over the possibility that Leventhal, a 29-year news veteran who has been with Fox News since the year after its inception, might have irresponsibly rushed to be first. For heaven’s sake, David, Leventhal cited one source, but that doesn’t mean he only spoke with one source during the 15-20 minutes preceding his 10:10 a.m. report, and that he didn’t confirm other basic details with others who might have witnessed what occurred.
After that, viewers will see Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of the far-left Nation magazine, go into an all-out attack on Trump:
BRIAN STELTER: David, full disclosure, this news happened earlier in the morning on Twitter. A FOX reporter reported this, according to one law enforcement source. We and other news outlets have been waiting for confirmation, of course, reaching out to sources in the meantime. That’s how it should work in the news business. (Aside: Really, Brian, it’s not reportable when there are already videos from various angles on Twitter [and Facebook, and various websites]? What elitism. — Ed.)
I want to ask you what you think the media and the political implications of something like this are, especially how a story takes root online, how rumors spread before facts actually catch up.
DAVID ZURAWIK: Yes, let me tell you what I actually thought in my heart of hearts sitting in the green room when I found out about this and it was only FOX reporting it. And it looked like it was one source, then it was a little fuzzy about the second source. But I thought, wow. They better be right about this because if they’re not, the possible implications of what they are reporting, if they are wrong, this is awful.
And my feeling was, you — on something like this, Brian, you wait until you have at least two sources you’re comfortable with. This is not something you go out there — it was also reported with details, alleged details I should say, about the physical appearance of the candidate and that as she got to the van.
I don’t want to repeat those because I don’t know they’re confirmed and I never would.
STELTER: Let me give you an example of that. Let me give you an example of that, David. Full disclosure to our audience, people are saying she is at the hospital, which is not true. CNN’s Dan Merica is outside the apartment building where Hillary Clinton is with her daughter. So, it’s a sample of misinformation that could happen. (As noted, Leventhal did NOT say she went to a hospital. — Ed.)
ZURAWIK: Yes, and this was textbook, the careful way it was reported here. Only what they confirmed.
Look, if it’s worse for this, there’s time for it. But you wait until it’s confirmed with something that is this possibly volatile in terms of this election, this close to the election. You go with extreme caution. I was surprised to see anybody reporting it without confirmation. (Who did that, David? — Ed.) Certainly not online and social media, but elsewhere.
STELTER: Katrina Vanden Heuvel, let me ask you about this as well, sitting here thinking about the implications of this, I’d be worried anytime any candidate had to leave an event like a 9/11 anniversary ceremony because they weren’t feeling well. The reporting is she is feeling better now, all is well.
But, Katrina, what do you think the possible ramifications of this could be politically for Hillary Clinton?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, one’s thoughts and sympathy go out to Hillary Clinton. This presidential campaign, all presidential campaigns have been brutal. This has been a scorched-earth one.
But I think what we are going to witness is further debasement of a possibility of a real serious political debate. Donald Trump is probably writing his tweet right now. I suspect it’s not very thoughtful. You’re going to have just gin up throughout a system. The Trumpism system, which has used this to — for many reasons.
It’s a proxy issue for the Trump campaign. So I do think we are going to see a further debasement of political debate in this deplorable campaign. And we, you know, Donald Trump has, with his politics, normalized, hate and bigotry, racism, misogyny and preyed on American’s legitimate grievances.
And the fact that Hillary Clinton — part of her — second part of her speech was never reported. It’s never good to go after voters. She should focus on Trump. But there’s no question Trump and Republicans played dog whistle politics for decades in order to prey on legitimate grievances, particularly the white working class and have given us lousy, right wing extremist policies.
And I think we need to focus on that, with all due respect to Secretary Clinton’s Health, let’s listen to her doctor, let’s not listen to Trump’s tweets, which are bound to come.
STELTER: I did just check his Twitter account. He hasn’t weighed in yet. Maybe he will.
Go ahead, Zurawik.
ZURAWIK: Yes, one fascinating — just factually, Katrina said the second half of her speech was never reported. Actually, it was reported in full in The New York Times.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Not sufficiently.
ZURAWIK: It was reported in The New York Times Saturday morning, the first report I read.
STELTER: Certainly, we have played the full sound byte here and things like that.
ZURAWIK: So, it wasn’t never reported.
VANDEN HEUVEL: It wasn’t given enough attention —
Vanden Heuvel’s whine about the second half of Mrs. Clinton’s statement is extreme sour grapes. First, the press also downplayed her statement that “some” of Trump’s supporters are “irredeemable,” an word arguably as damaging as her use of “deplorables.” Second, Mrs. Clinton’s final point about half of Trump’s supporters being ignored by government and politicians ignores the fact that the administration run by Democrat Barack Obama has been in charge of the economy during the past eight years. For all of his shortcomings, that’s not Trump’s fault.
The panel’s prediction that Trump will weigh in on Mrs. Clinton’s medical situation had yet to come to pass as of 3:45 p.m. Sunday, but that’s not the point. The point is to convince viewers that it’s inevitable. Those same viewers will never find out if Trump, who is perfectly capable of intemperance in situations such as this, leaves things alone. They’ll just assume he did. Mission accomplished.
As to vanden Heuvel’s smear about debasing the campaign, Hillary Clinton did that on an unprecedentedly large scale Friday when she described 25 percent of Americans as being “deplorables.”