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Latest Media Obsession: Trump’s Health

Pausing briefly from the press's never-ending Trump-Russia obsession, both Politico Magazine and USA Today decided earlier this week to focus on the state of President Donald Trump's health.

Nothing tangible appears to have prompted either report. USA Today absurdly issued a "breaking news" alert on the topic.

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The driving force behind issuing "breaking news" alerts used to be — and still should be — the need to communicate some dramatic new event or development. The press has taken to using the term to communicate clearly non-urgent items — perhaps never moreso than when USA Today issued its "breaking news" email alert about President Donald Trump's general health and his daily diet and exercise habits:

USATbreakingAlterTrumpHealth071817

Reporter Jayne O'Donnell's coverage tried to tie Trump's alleged indifference towards healthy living to public policy and to give ammo to people who want to use it to question his judgment (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Will Trump's exercise and eating habits catch up to him as stress mounts?

President Trump’s attitude toward diet and exercise isn’t simply a personal issue. It resonates in his policies on public health. Already his administration has relaxed nutritional standards on school lunches and he has yet to name any members of the president’s fitness council.

It could also impact his judgment. USA TODAY reported recently that neurologists say Trump shows most symptoms of sleep deprivation — including diminished cognition and anxiety — and a June report shows exercise is the single best medicine for a good night’s sleep.

The supposedly "relaxed nutritional standards" really mean that Michelle Obama's school-lunch initiatives, which essentially required to schools to dish out food that kids wouldn't eat, are going by the wayside.

The thinly veiled "judgment" attack tied to Trump's everyday sleep, diet and exercise habits looks like an attempt to initiate a negative meme, a consistent press habit with Republican presidents. For example, in the 1980s, the press wanted people to believe that Ronald Reagan's afternoon naps meant he was indifferent to governing. Hardly, given the results seen in his two terms.

Also, note how, with Trump, supposed medical professionals are willing to armchair-evaluate someone they haven't seen as a patient, which is a clear ethical no-no — unless it's applied to Republican presidents and presidential candidates going back as far as Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Additionally, the contrast between now and last fall, when the so many in the establishment press insisted that talking about the state of Hillary Clinton's health was out of bounds, could hardly be more obvious — even as Mrs. Clinton showed publicly visible indications of diminished physical stamina and mobility.

Ben Strauss's article at Politico Magazine went after Trump's physical and mental health far more aggressively, beginning with its double-entendre headline and continuing with its consistent attacks:

Is the President Fit?
Donald Trump is the least athletic president in generations. Here’s why it matters.

… (Former Trump organization executive Jack) O’Donnell, who in 1991 published a tell-all book about working with Trump, watches Trump putter along in his vehicle of choice, he doesn’t see a man conserving energy but a man who is unfit for office. As in, literally, physically unfit. “It says to me that he is in horrible shape and he knows it,” O’Donnell said. “He’d walk if he could, but he knows he can’t keep up with the group, so he rides the cart instead.” (Trump, for his part, dismissed O’Donnell in a 1999 Playboy interview as a “disgruntled employee” …)

… Presidents have long established standards of vigor and healthful living with their individual passions—Ford skied, Reagan rode horses, Carter liked to work on his farm—but Trump has managed to dispense with this unspoken obligation of the presidency as easily as he has every other White House norm.

"Every" White House norm? Really?

Obviously, Strauss has no concerns about being seen as biased, and of course conveniently forgot that wheelchair-bound Franklin Roosevelt was the nation's longest-serving president.

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Continuing later, with another obvious press meme set up for reference down the road, namely that Trump is gradually losing it:

(Harvard Medical School psychology professor John) Ratey was also deeply concerned about the effects of the president’s lack of exercise on his mental health. STAT News, the health-focused website, found that Trump has grown significantly less articulate over the years, raising the question of whether he is suffering some kind of cognitive decline.

If there's good news here, it may be that articles like the two covered here, though virtually substance-free complete wastes of readers' time, may indicate that the establishment press is belatedly recognizing that its nearly year-long Trump-Russia obsession is losing steam.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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