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Want to Know Who Lost That Fetterman-Oz Debate The Other Night? Media
Overkill obsession with Democrat John Fetterman's stroke has morphed into one big open ADA violation
If there is one major takeaway from watching this week’s climatic debate between Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate candidates it's this: from the ugly buzz around John Fetterman's stroke to the failure of moderators to ask Mehmet Oz anything about his Turkish dual citizenship or how he feels about January 6th, the clear loser in this debate - and others like it this year - is the media … and, more specifically, corporate “mainstream” media.
We've seen that in the largely biased corporate media-fueled reporting and public conversation around Democratic candidate John Fetterman's performance. Overkill obsession with it has morphed into one big open ADA violation.
Correct, that ADA: the Americans with Disabilities Act. For months, journalists, commentators and all of us in the chattering class have bloviated about the state of Fetterman's health in rather unhealthy and discriminatory ways. That has, of course, happened at the expense of the Senate nominee himself. But it has also marred the plight of nearly 800,000 Americans per year who are victimized by stroke and then must struggle through not only recovery, but stigmatization and loss of income brought on by a range of nosy co-workers and insensitive employers. Maybe we should revisit strokes in the context of how the ADA applies to it, as the Job Accommodation Network notes …
Yet, meddlesome American media posing as objective can't help but sensationalize the story of physically rehabilitating Democratic candidate who, in their mind, lost the debate before he even started it. "Democratic" candidate is emphasized here because never have we heard media concern over Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott's ability to run the state of Texas from a wheelchair after being struck with paralysis as the result of a 1984 fallen oak-tree accident. Or, never was there a question surrounding Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn's mental state while representing a North Carolina House district (even though, perhaps, there should have been after he was brandishing a gun during a public Congressional hearing). Media didn't seem bothered, either, about Louisiana Republican Congressman Steve Scalise's ability to lead the House GOP Caucus after he suffered grave injuries from a 2017 mass shooting targeting a Congressional baseball game practice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will look like the extra on the set of a Walking Dead episode up close. Where do we even begin on the decline of Trump’s mental and intellectual capacity …
In each of these instances involving Republican elected officials, we never hear calls for their resignation, worries they’ll implode or withdrawals from campaigns because of medical impairments. If we're going to go all in on politicians' medical conditions, well then let's go all in.
But, an aggressive double-standard seems applied to Fetterman, the Democratic candidate, perhaps because of the decisive role this Pennsylvania race plays and - perhaps - because corporate media (especially cable), already faced with slumping profits in the post-Trump presidency age, is not satisfied with the presence of normal governance in Washington and desperately needs eyeballs glued back to screens feverishly watching collapse. A chaotic Republican-led Congress blocking and impeaching President Biden while putting its finger on a debt-ceiling nuclear button brings the viewers back. An Oz win gets us closer to that.
Hence, journalists seem giddy with over-the-top analysis bordering on outright disinformation about the intellectual capacity of stroke victims. Keep in mind, Fetterman didn't have to do this, especially considering once common Senate debates overall, according to Axios, have "dwindled" from 17 in 2020 ... to now 7: a 59 percent decrease …
Objectively, the substance of Fetterman’s answers weren’t great at all - but, when have they ever been, even pre-stroke? But we still have to hand it to him for what amounted to an amazing tour de force of resilience. It was indeed, as the New Yorker's Jessica Winter called it, "metal."
It's not just the stigmas and uninformed tropes around a common, yet serious, ailment that afflicts Americans in the recovery stage more so than the event itself because of, well, stigmas and tropes. It is also the way in which media beats up the stroke victim, yet, in contrast, handles the highly questionable and mendacious Dr. Mehmet Oz with kid gloves. There's lots of demands for Fetterman's medical records - but little deep dive into the extent of business relationships with shady supplements Oz famously pushed as a TV star nor probing questions about his dangerously crackpot views on hydroxychloroquine as a COVID cure. No one, during Tuesday's debate, even thought to follow up on his dual Turkish citizenship, which is an issue given Turkey's despotic regime and Oz's refusal to acknowledge the genocide of Armenians in World War I. If the shoe were on a Democratic candidate's foot, Republicans would be losing their minds over this point - as they have over everything from Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's (D-MI) Somalian roots to helping launch Donald Trump's political career on the racist fallacy that President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States. "You can recover from a stroke," argues WURD contributor Dr. G.S. Potter. "But, you can't recover from being a white supremacist."
Media refuses to present these questions, and even much more consequential ones, such as the fate of democracy. Moderators, for example, refuse to ask candidates about their position on the destruction of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court. That’s crucial to know because, well, ultimately, it is the fundamental component American elections. However, as we witnessed in this debate, moderators and their supposedly intrepid "journalist" colleagues resist the necessary urge to get a basic "yes" or "no" on whether or not Senate candidates condemn the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which is by all accounts a "BFD" as they now say (Politico noticed that, too). It is awfully perplexing, too, that Democrats won't even ask or make a thing out of it. And how Oz, in particular, has also slid away from scrutiny on that question and more - despite the fact he's a member of the political party that all but officially endorsed the January 6th attack and is aligned with many of its organizers - is particularly troubling. Such a question might seem obvious, and yet it's not: which is interesting given that these candidates are all battling to go work in a place that was once, and still is, an insurrectionist target. Way too many "journalists," desperately hanging on to employment in a tough media job market, seem unfazed by the threat.