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Sunday, November 6, 2022
MRC Pushes Narrative That Debate Showed Fetterman Is 'Incapacitated'
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has been attacking Pennsyvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman ever since it decided it could exploit Fetterman's stroke for partisan gain in order to get his Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz, elected. When Fetterman needed closed captioning during his debate to counter issues with auditory processing afater his stroke -- an issue that usually resolves itself over time -- the MRC quickly pounced to bash Fetterman as severely mentally ill. Kevin Tober was first up, trying to establish the narrative that Fetterman's performance was "disastrous" and that the tsroke has "incapacitated" him:

Hours after Pennsylvania Democrat Senate candidate’s disastrous debate performance Tuesday night, where he was unable to complete a coherent sentence, MSNBC’s The 11th Hourhost Stephanie Ruhle sought to excuse Fetterman is clearly incapacitated by his recent stroke, and played whataboutism by directing attention toward Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker. 

“Given how he performed recovering from his stroke, Michael, some Republicans are out there tonight saying that Fetterman is unfit, he should withdraw,” Ruhle said as if Republicans are the ones who are wrong in this situation.

Tober then complained that the folks on Ruhle's panel pointed out that Oz isn't from Pennsylvania.

Curtis Houck followed with an Oct. 26 post that emphasized Fetterman's "physical and mental incapacitation":

On Wednesday, ABC, CBS and NBC attempted to channel Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars during their morning news shows by telling viewers to move along and dismiss what they saw Tuesday as Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA) showed severe cognitive impairment on a debate stage against Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat.

For a news media that so often has demanded we not normalize Donald Trump, they were hellbent on normalizing Fetterman’s inability to offer a string of coherent thoughts and required massive screens displaying the closed captioning.

Alex Christy complained that CNN reported that Fetterman's condition is not permanent and that he did OK despite that, then mixed in a little whataboutism:

CNN senior political analyst joined CNN Newsroom host Erica Hill on Wednesday to recap John Fetterman’s Tuesday debate performance. Avlon tried to reassure viewers that Fetterman’s poor performance was just “a snapshot in time,” that he will recover from his stroke, and that he was “gutsy” to even show up, but also that party label matters. The last point being a complete 180 from Avlon’s commentary on GOP candidates.

Hill began by recalling, “I spoke with former Democratic Governor Ed Rendell and former Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania Charlie Dent. And what I was struck by, I asked the governor out of the gate, do you think that John Fetterman should have debated and he said, no.”

Acknowledging that many Democrats “are feeling that way,” Avlon disagreed and wanted to give Fetterman a participation trophy, “And I think you've got to give credit to Fetterman for showing up. Because it is a risky decision, it's a gutsy decision, knowing how debilitating the stroke was against the backdrop of him saying that doctors have assured him that this is something that can be recovered from.”


Avlon has repeatedly declared Herschel Walker to be unfit to be a U.S. senator, partly because of the question of whether he paid for a girlfriend’s abortion, but also declaring him to be irredeemably incompetent and anyone who still supports him is putting party over country. Now that the party labels are switched and the Democrat is showing signs of being unfit for office, Avlon has decided to make party labels great again.

Nicholas Fondacaro similarly played Herschel whataboutism while similarly whining about a TV show that wouldn't promote the right-wing anti-Fetterman narrative:

Two weeks ago, the cackling coven of ABC’s The View mocked Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker for how he talks and suggested he had brain damage. Earlier this week, they used the term “stroke” to malign Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s debate performance. But on Wednesday, following the Pennsylvania Senate debate, the cast decried criticism of Democratic candidate John Fetterman as “unempathetic” and accused Republican candidate Mehmet Oz of “bully[ing] a stroke victim.”

Tim Graham pushed this narrative as well in his Oct. 26 podcast, grumbling that "the post-debate coverage lauded Fetterman's 'courage,' downplayed his disabilities (or made them a virtue)." Tober, meanwhile, did some servile stenography for his favorite Fox News host:

Nearly 24 hours since the end of the one and only Pennsylvania Senate debate between Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman, Fox News host Tucker Carlson opened his popular primetime show Tucker Carlson Tonight by going after the leftist media for knowingly covering up the extent to which Fetterman is incapacitated. Other than NBC correspondent Dasha Burns, the entire leftist media establishment covered up or downplayed Fetterman's brain damage. 

"It's the media who covered John Fetterman who should be the most ashamed. They've known the truth for months," Carlson opened by noting. "With only one exception, that would be NBC reporter Dasha Burns, the media lied to voters about it. We don't know anything about Dasha Burns, but she at least tried to be sort of honest," Carlson added.

By contrast, the MRC never criticized Carlson for selectively editing his interview with Kanye West -- which the MRC used to praise his right-wing values both before and after he tweeted out an anti-Semitic attack -- to take out the craziness and even more anti-Semitism.

Tober returned to whine in yet another Oct. 26 post:

On Wednesday night's edition of MSNBC's The Last Word, host Lawrence O'Donnell went into damage-control mode in the aftermath of Tuesday night's Pennsylvania Senate debate where Democrat candidate John Fetterman proved to everyone watching that he is incapacitated from the stroke he suffered last spring, and is unqualified to serve in the United States Senate. Knowing that, O'Donnell used the opening monologue of his show to compare Fetterman's illness to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. 


By tying FDR and Churchill to Fetterman, O'Donnell hopes to lead his viewers to believe that Fetterman is just as capable of performing his duties as Senator as FDR and Churchill were in leading their respective nations in World War II. 

The problem is that FDR was stricken by Polio and unable to walk. That didn't affect his ability to speak or make important decisions. Whereas Fetterman is clearly mentally incapacitated.

O'Donnell is so desperate for his party to control the United States Senate that he's willing to lie to his audience. 

Mark Finkelstein huffed in an Oct. 28 post:

Poor Mika Brzezinski. With John Fetterman's campaign collapsing around Democrat ears in the wake of his disastrous debate performance, the Morning Joe co-host soldiered on Thursday. 

Like a rescuer sifting through the rubble for signs of life after a building collapse, Brzezinski did her brave best on behalf of her fellow Democrat. Even so, she strained credulity well beyond the breaking point with this line: 

"Given that he did have a stroke, some might be surprised, [by] how well he did."

Mika must travel in some seriously strange circles if she knows people who thought Fetterman did surprisingly well. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations!

Finkelstein then penned another post complaining that Brzezinski repeated Fetterman's claim that “By January I will be much much better, but Oz will still be a fraud,” which quickly devolved into fearmongering about Fetterman's condition:

As per Johns Hopkins Health [emphasis added throughout]:

“The first three months after a stroke are the most important for recovery and when patients will see the most improvement.” 

Fetterman's stroke was five months ago.

As Johns Hopkins further notes [emphasis added]: 

"The most common long-term effects of stroke include aphasia, the medical term used to describe difficulties with language use. It is the most common long-term effect of strokes. Patients may struggle to find the right words, or have difficulty forming words or making themselves understood. They may also have problems understanding what people are saying, or have difficulty reading."

Anyone who watched the debate saw a textbook example.

Finally, Johns Hopkins also notes:

"It is very difficult to estimate how long a patient will take to recover from a stroke, which symptoms they will experience, and if those symptoms will resolve themselves over time or be permanently disabling."

So for Fetterman to boast that he will be "much, much better by January" is wishful thinking at best. Made even more questionable by his refusal to release his medical records. It could be that what we saw in the debate from Fetterman is basically what we'll get going forward.

Reminder: Finkelstein is not a medical doctor, he's just some guy who did an internet search.

Jeffrey Lord spent his Oct. 29 column spinning a conspiracy theory about Fetterman under the ridiculous headline "What Did the Media Know and When Did They Know It?," in which he declared that "The reason for the collective shock at Fetterman’s performance - by “panicked Democrats” and others - is that once the fact of Fetterman’s stroke was known, the media tried to run cover on the subject of Fetterman’s real condition as a result":

Instead of investigating and doing its due diligence on what was really going on with the stricken candidate and reporting it to Pennsylvania voters and the rest of the nation, the media reflex was to run cover for Fetterman. And when Fetterman finally agreed to that solitary debate with Oz, the intake of breath by debate-watchers in and out of the media was real. Sheer shock at hand. And for one reason and one reason only.

In not digging into Fetterman’s condition, and attacking NBC’s Dasha Burns for simply and objectively reporting what she observed, the media was signaling it was there not to cover Fetterman but to protect him - to cover for him.

Which is to say, yet another self-inflicted blow to liberal media has been had.

That's rich coming from a guy who has suffered numerous self-inflicted blows by being such a creepily obsequious kneejerk Trump defender.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:56 PM EST

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