The ‘dying Hillary’ meme is this year’s version of birtherism

No, this is not a picture of Hillary Clinton having a seizure, although it has been used to suggest such a thing. In reality, she is ducking from a shoe thrown at her in 2014 by a mentally ill woman.

No, this is not a picture of Hillary Clinton having a seizure or undergoing a demonic possession, although it has been used to suggest such a thing. In reality, she is ducking from a shoe thrown at her in 2014 by a mentally ill woman.

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Rudy Giuliani complained that the mainstream media is covering up evidence that Hillary Clinton suffers a severe and undisclosed medical condition that renders her unfit to serve as president.

His evidence for that extremely serious charge? Videos on the Internet:

“… all you gotta do is go online. Go online and put down ‘Hillary Clinton illness,’ take a look at the videos yourself.”

Of course, among other things that videos on the Internet will teach you are:

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when presidential candidates and their surrogates would have been too ashamed to publicly push such nonsense. No longer. In the era of Trump, the concept of shame and self-respect as limiting factors has disappeared, and there are now no depths to which certain people will not sink, even in defense of a doomed candidate.

And to be fair, it’s not all Donald Trump’s fault, because the phenomenon long predates his political career. In fact, this “Hillary is dying” meme is to the 2016 campaign against Clinton what birtherism had been to the GOP’s never-ending campaign against Barack Obama:

1.) It shares the same basis in fact, which is none.  It is a conspiracy theory hatched in the fetid Internet swamps, then embraced, given credibility and repeated by those who find it useful without regard to its truthfulness. In a strange way, its utter lack of factuality makes it immune to being disproved on a factual basis. (Case in point: Sean Hannity and others had alleged that Clinton’s security detail had been spotted carrying a diazepam syringe, used “for patients who experience recurrent seizures.” As a Secret Service spokeswoman later confirmed, it was actually a small flashlight.)

2.) It also serves the same functions as birtherism, which are to delegitimize its intended target, provide programming for the conservative entertainment complex and give the base a talking point to recite endlessly among each other. As Giuliani suggests, when the mainstream media refuse to give such allegations credence — because they have none — that’s yet another bonus, confirming the media’s bias against conservatives.

3.) Like birtherism, it serves as a bizarre, cult-like test of loyalty to the movement. Psychologists have long observed a phenomenon described as “groupthink”, defined originally by Yale psychologist Irving Janis. He defines it as “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive group, when the members’ striving for unanimity overrides their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action…. Groupthink refers to a deterioration of mental efficiencies, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures”. That describes it perfectly. Even now, in a recent NBC News poll, only 27 percent of Republicans would admit that Obama was born in this country, because they have been taught that believing the unbelievable is preferable to individual thought that risks group conformity.  The same is proving true of this “dying Hillary” meme.

4.) As we saw during the Republican convention, groupthink that may sound convincing to those self-confined within the GOP echo chamber sounds like obsessive crazy talk when it’s uttered in the world at large, where facts are still somewhat respected and skepticism is still allowed. The long string of conspiracy theories that have taken root within the GOP, from “Hillary murdered Vince Foster” through “Obama is an America-hating Muslim” to the current “Hillary is dying,” makes it difficult to conceive of the party as responsible and capable of governance.

The emphasis placed on such nonsense also makes it hard for the public to distinguish between such fiction and GOP critiques that do have some legitimacy, such as questions about the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising. The credibility needed to make that latter, legitimate argument is squandered by the insistence on peddling this kind of groundless stuff that the right has come to rely upon much too heavily.

 

Reader Comments 0

638 comments
John Boggs
John Boggs

That TV doctor said she was sick. TVdoctors have higher journalism standards then AJC types.

ArmourAll
ArmourAll

Where are the CORRUPTION STORIES ABOUT CLINTON?

Sheryl Meyer
Sheryl Meyer

Bookman we could careless what you think you mental midget.

Dwayne McMillen
Dwayne McMillen

Look if Clinton shot Bookman he would still defend her...blind partisan fools who support this crook...

John Callahan
John Callahan

Unlike the enlightened intellectuals supporting the philandering bigot who made his money screwing people out of their hard earned money?

Lee30519
Lee30519

Jay seems to somehow forget the 45,000 emails that were deleted as well as the voicemails.  Oh and lets not forget the corruption within the DNC to get her the election.  Blind fool!

Lee30519
Lee30519

Jay you are pathetic!  Are you forgetting the doctors who have looked over her physical and say it is either falsified or her doctors are treating her with methods from 10 years ago?


Bob Hunt
Bob Hunt

Bookliar puts his sick spin on Crooked Hillary's illness, in his bizzarro world nothing bad can be said of his idol, and benefactor. I say that because it isn't possible for one man to be so special stupid without compinsation. News,something AJC doesn't understand, pictures don't lie, Hillary does, SHE IS SICK.....phisically and mentally

Thomas K. Shea
Thomas K. Shea

Lying, Cheating, Stealing, and Murder, just to name a few of her symptoms.

John Marullo DC
John Marullo DC

Get on the Trump train Bookman. Stop acting like a dildo.

Jan Marynowski
Jan Marynowski

Bookman again you are proving that you are a moron. ....what a stupid article.

JFitzgerald Myers
JFitzgerald Myers

"The fetid internet swamps ." I love that Mr. Bookman. ROTFL So many of Donald Trump supporters have incorporated this area of the internet. They are SO desperate to see the demise of this woman. This ridiculous paranoia exhibited by Trump supporters is code for: We know Donald can't take her out so let's hope for a debilitating disease. So sad. So desperate. So ugly. So TRUMPoneous.

John P. Bell
John P. Bell

You can call it a call it a conspiracy, until you remember the injuries, see the lesions & ostomy bags, and witness the _umbles (mumbles, fumbles, stumbles, bumbles, etc). #ClintonCatheter #HillarysTongue #WhatsWithHer #WheresHillary #WhichHillary #WhyImNotVotingForHillary

Chuck Johnson
Chuck Johnson

These RWNJs now think a seriously ill woman is beating their boy. How sad is that? Maybe they haven't thought this latest stupid claim through very well?

Marc Chessler
Marc Chessler

Hey Bookman...the Clinton campaign of 2008 were the original birthers.....Bill questioned Barack in that year

Casey Sharp
Casey Sharp

This is what idiots talk about when their candidate has no real platform. Trump is too utterly uninformed to speak on anything substantive, so he gets into conspiracy theories and random pissing contests on Twitter.

Stephen Holland
Stephen Holland

This is how liberals respond that don't know what Trumps platform is and are totally duped by conmen like Clintons.

John Callahan
John Callahan

Trump apparently doesn't know what his platform is as he's changed his stance on immigration 3-4 times in the last 4 days.

Sheryl Meyer
Sheryl Meyer

Well libtards don't have much room to talk and don't have facts either! When y'all can't debate a subject or give us facts, y'all call us racists and run with your tails between your legs!!!! Liberal cowards is what you are!

Dunk13
Dunk13

Why are you so obsessed with trashing Donald Trump!

Paul Burks
Paul Burks

Hey ajc, how does CNN's a$$ smell?

Dona Elaine Hubbs
Dona Elaine Hubbs

Anything negative said about this disgusting criminal witch is either 1) a conspiracy theory, or 2) sexist, agist, racist, misogynistic, and xenophopic. Do you ever get tired of defending her Bookman? Are you hoping to be placed on her visiting list when those evil conspiracy theorists in Congress lock her up? I'm sure if you make a small contribution to the Clinton Foundation, Huma will arrange a visit for you.

Casey Sharp
Casey Sharp

James Beck, no. HRC supporters do not compare to the hateful cowards who follow that spoiled orange brat.

James Beck
James Beck

Casey Sharp As opposed to the Hillary cult? Both groups are equally bizarre and scary.

Casey Sharp
Casey Sharp

This is what people talk about when their candidate has no platform. The Trump cult is scary.

Sheryl Meyer
Sheryl Meyer

Hateful cowards? Casey you dip wad it's you Hilliary supporters that accuse everyone of being racists, xenophobic, mygenistics, uneducated, retarded, white trash, meth heads, etc............ And it is you people who are the hateful cowards and uneducated!!!!!!!!

Mike Hausmann
Mike Hausmann

And the Dems are as pure as the driven snow...blow me!

Casey Sharp
Casey Sharp

Nope. Try again. Try talking about some real issues maybe?

Jan Marynowski
Jan Marynowski

Casey Sharp, why, you are to stupid to understand them.

Russ Collins
Russ Collins

Casey Sharp, go back and do some research. She is the one that started the birther movement against Obama. Don't close your eyes to facts.

Steve Morris
Steve Morris

Criminal Clinton is different than Birth certificate!

YouLibs
YouLibs

Does the Pulitzer committee not have access to the AJC?

DerekGator
DerekGator

Pay to Play will be a much bigger problem for HRC than her health.  Trump is a quack but HRC squeezed millions out of donors for political favors, the Clinton Foundation is the equivalent of the Mafia.  

juliainatlanta
juliainatlanta

@DerekGator One might argue that the Iraq war was nothing more than a pay to play for Cheney & his neocon co-conspirators.  

KFinGeorgia
KFinGeorgia

Is Giuliani afraid Clinton *is* dying? Or that she isn't?

Airdale
Airdale

Things Trump will not tell people:

Let's see - Tax return, school transcripts, relationship with Putin, actual net worth, debt holders, number of suppliers stiffed, number of illegals working in Trump hotels, .... the list goes on, and on, and on......... 

Lee30519
Lee30519

@Airdale Wow you guys didnt fight this hard when Obama withheld his birth certificate!


straker
straker

Buckye - "12 years old"


That sounds at about the right level for most of his true believer followers.