December 31, 2012

(Darko Vojinovic / The Associated Press)

A cable-news quip by Fox News contributor John Bolton is looking even more dubious following yesterday’s news that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had checked in to New York Presbyterian Hospital to treat a blood clot associated with a concussion she’d sustained earlier in December.
That concussion kept Clinton from appearing at a Dec. 20 congressional hearing on Benghazi, a set of circumstances that triggered a certain meter of Bolton’s. In a Dec. 17 appearance on Fox News’s “On the Record,” he said:

Well, I think she will have to testify at some point. You know, every foreign service officer in every foreign ministry in the world knows the phrase I am about to use. When you don’t want to go to a meeting or conference or an event you have a “diplomatic illness.” And this is a diplomatic illness to beat the band. I certainly hope it was nothing serious, but this was revealed in a way that I think was not transparent. And I think there is an obligation here, especially if Secretary Clinton decides to run for president, to indicate what happened. She may not be testifying this week, but she will not escape it forever.

When asked about those comments in light of Clinton’s hospitalization, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. highlighted the fact that he expressed his hope that there was nothing serious about the situation. And he also circled back to his point about transparency. There hasn’t been enough of it, that is:

Sadly, this latest news overtakes statements issued on December 28 about Secretary Clinton’s return to work this week … Her public relations staff is doing her no service by its performance here.

The Erik Wemple Blog is awaiting a response from said public relations staff regarding that allegation. As a previous post pointed out, Clinton aides or doctors have issued at least six statements in recent weeks about her health. Now there are at least seven.
To round out his defense on the Clinton-concussion matter, Bolton points to the secretary’s record on Benghazi. He points to a story that CBS News has done on this very question. Notes Bolton:

CBS, in that story, after referring to Secretary Clinton’s hospitalization, says, “Clinton has largely stayed above the fray of controversy surrounding the attacks that has dogged the administration….” I’m sure in the interests of fairness you will take due note of CBS’s characterization.

Done.
The interests of fairness, though, require a critical distinction here: Between criticizing Clinton’s record on Benghazi and alleging that she faked a concussion. In order to accomplish the former, you needn’t wade into the callous and cold-hearted territory of the latter. Given that Bolton apparently fashions himself an expert on PR, he may want to fashion an apology over that dreadful “diplomatic illness” reference. It would do wonders for his Fox News contributorship.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.