The Media Members Behind Conspiracy Theories About Trump’s Mental Health

Peter Hasson | Reporter

White House doctor Ronny Jackson gave President Trump a clean bill of health on Tuesday and debunked conspiracy theories surrounding the president’s mental health.

Dr. Jackson, who has been the White House doctor since 2013, said that he had no concerns about Trump’s mental health. Trump also took a cognitive test that screens for Alzheimers and dementia and scored a perfect 30 out of 30 on it. The clean bill of health was a devastating blow to members of the establishment media who promoted conspiracy theories alleging that President Trump is mentally ill.

CNN’s Unreliable Source

CNN host Brian Stelter played a leading role in mainstreaming conspiracy theories about President Trump’s mental health.  Following Trump’s much-criticized response to the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last August, Stelter raised the question of whether Trump was “suffering from some sort of of illness” and not “fit for office.” Stelter called on other journalists to similarly question the president’s mental health, on the grounds that their audiences already are, despite any real evidence to support such speculation.

Earlier this month, Stelter asserted as fact that the president is mentally unfit to serve. Stelter’s evidence of Trump’s mental health was not based on medical evidence, but on the president’s tweets. “We could apply a test to his 16 tweets today. If this were the leader of Germany or China or Brazil, what would we say? How would we cover these tweets? We would say these are the messages from a person who is not well, from a leader who is not fit for office,” Stelter said.

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Stelter remained defiant after Trump’s clean bill of health on Tuesday. Stelter, who previously asserted Trump’s mental unfitness as a fact, said Tuesday, “Someone could be sharp as a tack, but still unfit.”

Rubin’s World

Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, a former conservative, has been questioning Trump’s mental health since June. Rubin downplayed the results of Trump’s medical exam on Tuesday, complaining that he took a cognitive test and not a full psychiatric exam. She was one of several journalists to cast doubt on Trump’s medical results, despite evidence to the contrary.

A Wolff’s Tale

Author Michael Wolff described Trump as mentally ill in “Fire and Fury,” his salacious (though error-riddled) book about the Trump White House. While promoting the book, which he admitted contained things that aren’t true, Wolff speculated that Trump has dementia or a learning disability. Wolff’s wild claims about the president’s mental health also gave CNN and MSNBC anchors the opportunity to bring him on panels to speculate about the president’s mental health.

Conspiracy Theories: Couple’s Edition

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the husband and wife co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” were among the main promoters of the conspiracy theory that the president is mentally ill. Brzezinski first speculated about the president’s mental health in May, a week after Scarborough suggested Trump has dementia. The couple have continued to wildly speculate about Trump’s health since then. Earlier this month on Jan. 4, Scarborough again suggested that Trump might be in the early stages of dementia.

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Scarborough called Trump “completely detached from reality” in November. He repeated that accusation earlier this month on Katie Couric’s podcast. “We have a president, who Mika and I believe, through knowing him, is not mentally stable,” Scarborough said. He called Trump “less stable [than he was] a year and a half ago when people on his campaign told me they believe he had early onset dementia.”

CNN’s Ana Navarro

CNN commentator Ana Navarro, one of the network’s most enthusiastically anti-Trump pundits, has been a leading conspiracy theorist about Trump’s health. She first suggested in August that Trump “maybe” has early-onset dementia.

She claimed again in November that Trump looked like someone with dementia.

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Trump Breaks The New York Daily News 

The New York Daily News reached its breaking point in November, publishing an editorial that described Trump as mentally unfit. As with CNN’s Stelter, it was a round-up of Trump tweets that pushed the paper’s editors over the edge. “After his latest spasm of deranged tweets, only those completely under his spell can deny what growing numbers of Americans have long suspected: The President of the United States is profoundly unstable,” the editorial stated. “He is mad. He is, by any honest layman’s definition, mentally unwell and viciously lashing out.”

Networks Love The ‘Pariah’ Psychiatrist 

CNN and MSNBC both promoted this month a Yale psychiatry professor, Bandy Lee, who accused the president of being mentally unfit for office. Lee has been making those claims for over a year, before Trump won the election. She has admitted that she is a “pariah” within her department at Yale for her campaign about the president’s mental health, which the the American Psychological Association (APA) has rebuked. Both CNN and MSNBC treated her year-old claims with credibility after it was revealed that she briefed a small group of Democratic lawmakers on her arguments in December. (RELATED: How The Media Mainstreamed A Democratic Conspiracy Theory)

This article has been updated to include additional context about Stelter’s August remarks.

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