Why do we expect so much transparency from presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump when it comes to their health? It wasn’t always that way. John Dickerson, a history buff and Slate columnist, recently spoke to the New York Times‘ “The Run-Up” podcast (a must listen for those following the election) on the history of voters demanding medical information from presidents. Some highlights:
* After president Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack in the middle of the night, reporters were told that it was a bout of indigestion. The press soon learned the truth, but Eisenhower’s press secretary, James Hagerdy, came up with a brilliant strategy to divert their interest elsewhere. The president’s physician reported that Eisenhower had a “successful bowel movement,” and the Associated Press printed it as “official news.”
* Sen. John McCain also overwhelmed the press with too much information. He released thousands of carefully selected medical records for several hours to the media during his 2000 and 2008 bids for the presidency.
*A president’s health was once considered out of the public view, for the most part. Former presidents John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson all hid serious medical conditions from the public.
Where would you draw the line on how much you’d want to know about a presidential candidates’ health? Let me know @chrissyfarr on Twitter.