ABC, CBS Rush to Defend Hillary Clinton From Karl Rove’s Questions About Her Health

Earlier this week,, The New York Post reported that Karl Rove recently made comments questioning Hillary Clinton’s health in the event she runs for president in 2016, and the Wednesday, May 14 ABC and CBS morning shows predictably rushed to defend Secretary Clinton from Rove’s criticism. 

CBS This Morning’s Charlie Rose promoted the “backlash following Karl Rove’s comments about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton” while ABC’s George Stephanopoulos played up the “hard-edged dustup over Hillary Clinton's health.” [See video below.]

Rose continued to spin for Clinton and highlighted how “Clinton's allies are not letting Rove’s remarks go unanswered.” Reporter Jan Crawford then began her report by immediately condemning Rove’s remarks: “The White House Tuesday fired back at Karl Rove for reportedly suggesting that Hillary Clinton had brain damage, mocking the former Bush advisor’s diagnosis.”

After briefly playing a clip of Rove clarifying his comments, Crawford immediately returned to defending Clinton: Tuesday her spokesman responded to Rove's comments saying “What he's doing is his own form of sickness. She's 100%, period. Time for them to move on to their next desperate attack.” Co-host Gayle King then concluded the segment by claiming Rove was in damage control mode: “He's trying to mend his comments. We'll see.”

Over on ABC, George Stephanopoulos, Good Morning America co-host and former White House Communications Director for President Bill Clinton, rushed to condemn Rove and described the “hard-edged dustup over Hillary Clinton’s health” before quickly informing his audience that the “Clinton camp [is] hitting back hard.” 

ABC’s Jonathan Karl began his report in similar fashion to that of CBS’s Crawford, by immediately pushing the story as a Rove gaffe: 

It seems like we've been transported into the middle of a presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton's team is accusing Rove of flat out lying. Rove is hitting back. And even The White House is jumping in....Her spokesperson said Rove and others on the right are “flat out lying. They’re scared of what she has achieved and what she has to offer.” 

As the report continued, the ABC News Chief White House Correspondent spun that “Rove tried to clarify his comments in an interview on Fox News” before hyping both the condemnation Rove has received from The White House and fellow Republicans:

JAY CARNEY: Dr. Rove might have been the last person in America on election night to recognize and acknowledge that the president had won re-election, including the state of Ohio. So we'll leave it at that. 

KARL: And Rove took some friendly fire. 

NEWT GINGRICH: But I do believe that Karl Rove was totally wrong. I think he represented the worst instincts of the consulting class in the Republican Party. 

Karl concluded his report by sympathizing with Clinton one last time:

This is the most forcefully we've seen Hillary Clinton team respond to any attacks since she left office. They are accusing Rove of politicizing her health. As for her health, Clinton's spokesperson said, she is 100% period.

See relevant transcript below. 


CBS

CBS This Morning 

May 14, 2014

7:32 a.m. Eastern [3 minutes 5 seconds]

CHARLIE ROSE: The "Washington Post" looks at the backlash following Karl Rove's comments about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Republican strategist suggested Clinton’s health could be an issue if she runs for president. Jan Crawford is in Washington where Clinton's allies are not letting Rove’s remarks go unanswered. Jan, good morning. 

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning. So, okay, these comments revolve around this fall that Clinton took way back in 2012, just a couple of years ago, but still big in the news Charlie. And after that accident, doctors diagnosed her with a blood clot in her head. But now Rove is suggesting that that may have been much more serious. The White House Tuesday fired back at Karl Rove for reportedly suggesting that Hillary Clinton had brain damage, mocking the former Bush advisor’s diagnosis. 

JAY CARNEY: Here's what I have to say about cognitive capacity, which is that Dr. Rove might have been the last person in America on election night to recognize and acknowledge that the president had won re-election. 

CRAWFORD: According to the "New York Post" at a private event last week, Rove brought up Clinton's fall in 2012. Saying “30 days in the hospital and when she reappears, she's wearing glasses that are only for people who have a traumatic brain injury. We need to know what's up with that.” But by Tuesday morning he backtracked.      

KARL ROVE: No, no, no. Wait a minute. No, no. I didn't say she had brain damage. She had a serious health episode. And my other point is this will be an issue in the 2016 races whether she likes it or not. 

CRAWFORD: The former Secretary of State was admitted in the hospital for three days, not 30, after the accident in December of 2012. Weeks later she spoke about her health on "60 Minutes." 

HILLARY CLINTON: I still have some lingering effects from falling on my head and having they blood clot but the doctors tell me that that will all recede. 

CRAWFORD: Tuesday her spokesman responded to Rove's comments saying “What he's doing is his own form of sickness. She's 100%, period. Time for them to move on to their next desperate attack.” But if Clinton decides to run for president, the issue could be here to stay. 

AMY CHOZICK: Candidates often release their medical records and the press scrutinizes it. So her health I'm sure would be questioned just like any other presidential candidate's would be. 

CRAWFORD: Now, Republicans and Democrats agree on one thing. They're both saying that those comments were strategic, basically to raise questions early on about the front-runner's health and age. Gayle? 

GAYLE KING: All right. Thank you, Jan. 

NORAH O’DONNELL: And you know, Jan make greats point. John Dickerson, of course, our political director, has a piece out this morning saying the same thing. That raising questions about a potential nominee early on is the best practice. Democrats bragged about how maligning Mitt Romney early on was good. And as Dickerson points out that raising issues about health and age it’s a standard operating procedure in campaigns and in modern history it's been used chiefly by Democrats against Republicans. 

ROSE: Here’s what Rush Limbaugh said. So anyway the left is fit to be tied over what Rove said about Mrs. Clinton. He is walking back brain damage but he thinks she suffered some kind of catastrophic or very serious injury when she fell and we know that she fell. 

KING: He's trying to mend his comments. We'll see. Thank you, Jan. 

 

ABC

Good Morning America

May 14, 2014

7:11 a.m. Eastern [2 minutes 33 seconds]

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn to that hard-edged dustup over Hillary Clinton's health. GOP guru Karl Rove suggesting Clinton's head injuries from a fall 18 months ago are far more serious than she’s admitted. Clinton camp hitting back hard. And ABC’s Jon Karl is covering it all from Washington. Good morning, Jon. 

JONATHAN KARL: Good morning, George. It seems like we've been transported into the middle of a presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton's team is accusing Rove of flat out lying. Rove is hitting back. And even The White House is jumping in. "The New York Post" was the first to report what Karl Rove told an audience out in California. Suggesting Hillary Clinton is hiding something about a health scare she had back in 2012. “30 days in the hospital? And when she reappears she's wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what's up with that. "The Post" quoted Rove. Mrs. Clinton spent only 3 days in the hospital, not 30. Her spokesperson said Rove and others on the right are “flat out lying. They’re scared of what she has achieved and what she has to offer.” Rove tried to clarify his comments in an interview on Fox News.  

KARL ROVE: No. no. I didn't say she had brain damage. She had a serious health episode. This will be an issue in the 2016 race, and whether she likes it or not. Every presidential candidate is asked for all of their health records. 

KARL: At issue, is a virus and a concussion Mrs. Clinton suffered after a fall in December 2012, which forced her to cancel some Secretary of State travel and postpone testimony before Congress about the Benghazi attack. Appearing on '"60 Minutes" in January 2013, Mrs. Clinton said the prognosis was positive. 

HILLARY CLINTON: You know, I still have some lingering effects. But, you know, the doctors tell me that that will all  recede. 

KARL: Now, the question Rove is raising, is whether she is healthy enough to serve as president. 

NICOLLE WALLACE: This was a deliberate strategy on his part to raise her health as an issue. 

KARL: Even the White House weighed in.

JAY CARNEY: Dr. Rove might have been the last person in America on election night to recognize and acknowledge that the president had won re-election, including the state of Ohio. So we'll leave it at that. 

KARL: And Rove took some friendly fire. 

NEWT GINGRICH: But I do believe that Karl Rove was totally wrong. I think he represented the worst instincts of the consulting class in the Republican Party. 

KARL: This is the most forcefully we've seen Hillary Clinton team respond to any attacks since she left office. They are accusing Rove of politicizing her health. As for her health, Clinton's spokesperson said, she is 100% period. George?  

STEPHANOPOULOS: And election day what two and a half years away? Okay Jon Karl , thanks very much. Not even the beginning of the beginning. 

ROBIN ROBERTS: Not wasting any time. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.