This post has been updated.

The biggest story of Hillary Clinton's marathon testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi was not that there wasn't much of a story. At least not in the estimation of conservative blogger Matt Drudge.

For Drudge, the biggest story was Hillary Clinton's health.


"Hillary health was biggest revelation at hearing," Drudge tweeted shortly after the hearing ended. "Coughing fit. Slow-speaking, obviously induced by meds. Choose not to believe if you must." (About 10 hours into the hearing, Clinton's testimony was briefly interrupted as she had to cough.)

He went on to issue his assessment of her illnesses.


Matt Drudge is not a doctor. So I called my doctor to see how seriously we -- and Clinton -- should take Drudge's diagnoses. Philip Weintraub is an internist and cardiologist who has been practicing medicine for 35 years, since Matt Drudge was 14.

"I think he has an active imagination," Weintraub said of Drudge. "I think he's probably Googled and seen that there may be some overtones to this in other people."

Let's start with the coughing fit. "It's strange if you can be interviewed for 11 hours and not have to clear your voice or rearrange the phlegm in the back of your throat," Weintraub said. Every time you speak, Weintraub said, you're pushing air past your vocal cords and out into the air, carrying with it moisture.

"Dryness of the throat, dryness of the back of the mouth, dryness of the tongue and the lips is common after prolonged speech," Weintraub said. A cough is a reflex meant to clear dried secretions, he said, such as might happen after talking for hours on end.

"I'm not saying that it's healthy," he added. "But certainly it should not under the circumstances be presumed as unhealthy."

The slow speech? "If she was on medication," Weintraub said, "that would be the speed and the pace of the whole dialogue." When she was fatigued, she might show signs of muscle weakness in her voice, he added, but that her slow speech early on -- especially in her opening statement -- was likely a function of her having prepared comments that she delivered like a speech. (We looked at this a bit on Thursday.)

Then there's hypothyroidism. The thyroid, located in the neck, produces hormone to regulate metabolism. Hyperthyroidism produces too much of that hormone, and makes the body "hyperactive," in Weintraub's expression. Hypothyroidism is the opposite, which "might manifest itself as fatigue," Weintraub said. But Clinton's testimony itself suggests that it's unlikely.

"One would expect if they were hypothyroid there would be an inability to function under duress for an extended period of time because the level of octane in the bloodstream is low," Weintraub said. "The fact that she was able to withstand that intensity for 11 hours is probably a test to show that she has normal thyroid function."

(Update: On Twitter, Drudge points out that Clinton's doctor has said she does, in fact, suffer from hypothyroidism. To Weintraub's point, it didn't seem to affect her Thursday.)

Weintraub summarized the core conflict in Drudge's assessment. "Science and politics," he said, "sometimes don't mix well."