The Trump campaign's concerted effort to pump up questions about Hillary Clinton's health using innuendo and unfounded speculation now includes an official diagnosis: dysphasia.
A spokeswoman alleged Thursday that Clinton suffers from the language disorder, with which she has never been diagnosed. Katrina Pierson, whose command of the facts has been seriously called into question in recent weeks, appeared on MSNBC to answer questions about why the Trump campaign is going down this road, even as Clinton's doctors say she's healthy and that the conspiracy theories are bogus.
Pierson argued: "What's new are the other reports of the observations of Hillary Clinton's behavior and mannerisms, specifically with what you just showed in those previous clips, as well as her dysphasia, the fact that she's fallen, she has had a concussion."
"It's something that needs to be addressed," Pierson continued. "She's taken a lot of time off the campaign trail."
Dysphasia is defined as the "loss of or deficiency in the power to use or understand language as a result of injury to or disease of the brain." And Pierson isn't the first to allege that Clinton has it. A doctor appearing on Sean Hannity's Fox News show last week suggested that Clinton might have "aphasia," which is synonymous with dysphasia.
"I saw the same video you saw, and I'm wondering about a word called 'aphasia,' where you're searching for words, you suddenly lose those words, and that can be the sign, again, of some kind of traumatic brain injury or the after-effects of a concussion," Fox News medical correspondent Marc Siegel said.
The segment has drawn heavy criticism, most notably from CNN media reporter Brian Stelter, who called it "reckless speculation."
Pierson, of course, hasn't been shy about passing along rumors or laughably misstating facts. Earlier this month, she accused President Obama of starting the war in Afghanistan and also said he was to blame for the death of Capt. Humayun Khan, the son of Democratic National Convention speaker Khizr Khan, in Iraq in 2004. Both happened before Obama was even a U.S. senator, much less president.
Pierson in this case appears to be passing along the kind of conspiracy theory website content that has colored so much of the Trump campaign. The candidate himself once pointed to a National Enquirer story alleging that Ted Cruz's father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
While that was so ridiculous as to be laughable, Pierson's dysphasia diagnosis is clearly part of a cynical effort to raise questions about Clinton's health — an effort that is taking place outside the bounds of what's generally been acceptable in a presidential campaign.
The media has been forced to write about it and the Clinton campaign has been forced to respond to the conspiracy theories about her health — in large part because Donald Trump breathes life into them almost daily by pointing to Clinton's lack of "stamina" on the campaign trial.
In previous elections, a candidate like Trump might have called on Clinton to release more medical records, but his campaign is instead unleashing a bevy of speculation and suggestion. Pierson's diagnosis, given that history — and hers — should perhaps have been predictable.