Following Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman’s decision to skip his debate with Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz, the liberal media rallied around the recent stroke victim, condemning Oz’s campaign for commenting on his health and pushing the notion that Republicans, not particularly keen on Oz to begin with, may be the ones to suffer.
(Video: Fox News)
As previously reported, Fetterman and Oz have, much to the chagrin of weary voters, not been shy about trading juvenile barbs on social media.
A Twitter battle over how many houses Oz owns ended when the doctor stated, “I have 10 properties (disclosed when I announced). 2 homes.”
“My turn,” he countered. “When can we debate?”
I have 10 properties (disclosed when I announced).
My turn: when can we debate?
— Dr. Mehmet Oz (@DrOz) August 18, 2022
But following a stroke in May, it became painfully obvious that debating would be difficult for Fetterman, who could barely complete a sentence on the campaign trail in August.
John Fetterman is not okay. pic.twitter.com/3xiQwiBaT3
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) August 15, 2022
Oz appeared on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom” and accused Fetterman of avoiding a debate, not because of his health, but because he was “hiding his radical views.”
“I offered John Fetterman numerous opportunities to explain to me how I can make it easier for him to debate, but at this point, since he’s given numerous reasons for not showing up, including the fact he didn’t have time in his schedule, I’m of the opinion that he’s hiding his radical views because he is the furthest far-left radical candidate at any competitive Senate race this cycle, and he doesn’t want those views to be exposed,” he stated.
Over on CNN, political commentator Michael Smerconish called Oz’s comments “asinine” and “sophomoric.” While he acknowledged that Fetterman’s condition was a “legitimate concern,” he claimed Oz’s attitude would ultimately benefit his opponent.
“This may end up being to the benefit of Fetterman because we all know someone who has suffered a stroke, and Oz through his response to this, I think has made Fetterman more sympathetic,” he stated.
Jackie Kucinich, a political analyst on CNN pointed to a Fetterman campaign ad in which he asked a crowd, “who here has ever had a health issue?” Hands shot in the air, leading Kucinich to claim that Fetterman flipped the script, turning a “legitimate issue” into a “potential positive.”
And according to yet another CNN analyst, Natasha Alford, a recent poll suggests that “people don’t mind” Fetterman’s compromised health, and it’s not, for voters, considered a “weak point.”
The media would have a different take if a Republican’s health issues forced them to skip a debate, Legal Insurrection founder and media critic William A. Jacobson told Fox News Digital.
“It’s often helpful to ask how the media would treat a situation if the party affiliations were reversed,” he said. “Is there any doubt that if a Republican candidate had a serious potential mental impairment, and stayed off the campaign trail and refused to debate because of it, that the media would be all over the issue?”
Answering his own question, Jacobson stated, “Of course it would be front and center, and the public interest would take priority over sympathy.”
Surprisingly, CNN’s John Avlon agrees.
“I don’t know why it is so hard in our politics today to apply the same standards no matter which political party is in question,” he said. “You know, you give Republicans a lot of grief for trying to duck debates. I know I do.”
“You know what?” he continued. “You gotta do the same thing when a Democrat does it for whatever reason.”
Wealthy Dr Oz and ‘mooch-of-your-parents’ Dem opponent throwdown in 5th-grade-level Twitter war https://t.co/xoV3YiiGKg pic.twitter.com/Q8bCDj0z7S
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 18, 2022
Dr. Oz has to address Fetterman’s health issues, KTTH radio host Jason Rantz told Fox News Digital, but he must do so without it coming across as if Oz is picking on him.
As for the “dishonest” news coverage, Rantz noted that journalists are between a rock and a hard place.
“Journalists find themselves in a pickle,” he said. “They know Fetterman’s health is a clear issue and reasonable concern, but they don’t want to hurt his chances of winning. This just reminds us how utterly incapable some journalists are of offering honest news coverage.”
While it’s “understandable” that a liberal media would be sympathetic to Fetterman’s condition, DePauw University journalism professor Jeffrey McCall argued that they must still hold the candidate accountable in what will certainly be a crucial race in determining whether or not Democrats will hold the Senate.
“We should all be concerned for Fetterman’s health, of course, but this seat in the Senate could well determine Senate control, and thus, Fetterman should be expected to demonstrate that he can handle the duties of the office,” he said. “Being an effective senator requires being able to debate in committee hearings and on the floor of the Senate. Therefore, Fetterman should be expected to rhetorically engage the public through formal debates and through in-depth media interviews.”
Whether or not Oz intended it, outlets such as the Washington Post, NBC News, and The New York Times have begun framing their stories to suggest only Oz has Fetterman’s health a key point in the race.
“Mr. Fetterman said on Tuesday that he would not participate in a debate in early September, implying that his recovery from his stroke in May was not complete enough for him to perform at the peak of his abilities. His decision came after a day of goading by the Oz campaign,” The Times wrote, according to Fox News Digital.
“While there is a long tradition in American politics of candidates’ questioning rivals’ health and fitness for office, Dr. Oz seized on the issue as he has been reviving his struggling candidacy,” the Times continued. “The attacks have pried open an issue that the Fetterman campaign has sought to control — Mr. Fetterman’s health — by avoiding free-for-all questioning from the news media or voters since the candidate’s return to campaigning this month.”
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