Shortly after being diagnosed with pneumonia Hillary Clinton decided to limit the information to her family members and close aides. It is reported that she was certain the illness was not a crucial issue for voters and could be exploited by her opponents.
Less than 48 hours later this decision to constrain and control information bit the Clinton campaign team hard, exposing an aloof culture of secrecy within her team which voters already held significant concerns about.
At a memorial in New York to mark the 15th anniversary since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hillary Clinton was taken ill and left the ceremony early. The images that were circulated of her visibly weak were awful. To doubt this is to question the power of an image showing her sufficiently enfeebled that she was manhandled into a van “like a side of beef”
Initially, her campaign said it was because she “felt overheated” and then refused to answer questions over her whereabouts from the travelling press pack following her side of the presidential election. Finally, over five hours after the video of her collapsing was posted online, the campaign released a statement detailing the pneumonia and her treatment with a course of antibiotics. This five hour information vacuum had been filled with speculation, social media chatter and right-wing conspiracy theories that the Clinton campaign shouldn’t have allowed to even begin.
Polling in the last 24 hours reveals that less than half of US voters believe her claims about her health . When your opponent - Donald Trump - is calling you ‘crooked’ in a bid to undermine your credentials and people’s trust in you why provide fuel for this?
Without seeking to exploit the 9/11 memorial for her own benefit, if Clinton had been honest and stated that she had pneumonia, but wanted to attend the event as she knows how important it is to honour those who died, surely her regard with voters would have been boosted. Instead a moment of public weakness that any candidate would want to avoid has highlighted Clinton major personal weakness - her central vulnerability as a candidate - in the eyes of voters.
As respected former adviser to President Obama Tweeted, “Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia. What’s the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?” Or, as President Nixon once declared, “It’s not the crime that gets you…its the cover up.” That’s why Hillary Clinton is my Mis-Communicator of the Week.
Mis-Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for free to our twice weekly editorial alert.
We have six email alerts in total - covering ESG, internal comms, PR jobs and events. Enter your email address below to find out more: