Flashback: When The Media Embraced McCain ’08 Health Conspiracies

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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As the press breathlessly denounced a barrage of conspiracy theories concerning Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s health, it ignored its commission of the exact same sin eight years ago.

In 2008, numerous media outlets syndicated reports declaring then-Republican nominee Sen. John McCain had a high chance of dying in office should he be elected president.

“1 in 4 chance McCain may not survive 2nd term,” an Associated Press headline read.

“Odds 1-in-3 that McCain may not reach 80,” said a report from United Press International.

The AP report was based on an actuarial table released by Bragg Associates, a company specializing in estimates of life and health expectancy. The firm calculated that McCain had a 24.44 percent chance of dying before reaching the end of a second term in the White House. President Barack Obama’s outlook was a promising 5.76 percent. The company relied on eight years worth of medical records — totaling over 1,000 pages — McCain released during his unsuccessful bid for the presidency. (RELATED: Emails Show Huma Used To Put Hillary Down For Nap Time)

[dcquiz] The AP’s report was syndicated by NBC News, the Huffington Post, and numerous local papers.

The UPI’s dispatch, based on a Politico report, relied on insurance industry estimates, which place a 72-year-old American male’s chances at reaching the age of 80 below 70 percent.

“Insurance industry actuaries say men who are 72 have a 33 percent chance of not surviving to reach 80, which would be McCain’s age at the end of possible second term,” the wire service reported.

“Other experts said McCain’s history of skin cancer might affect his survival odds,” the report reads. McCain has had several bouts of melanoma, a form of cancer with an extremely low rate of metastasis and fatality.

As of this writing, McCain is still alive. He turns 80 Aug. 29.

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