The Atlantic, Vox, and more rally behind Fetterman, say stroke gives him ‘just-like-us’ appeal
Liberal media outlets are rallying around Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman after an NBC News reporter said he had difficulty understanding their conversation during a sit-down interview.
On Monday, The Atlantic’s Elaine Godfrey wrote that despite his “relatively privileged upbringing,” Fetterman has long been recognized as a “consummate everyman” and a straight talker.
Speaking with Fetterman supporters during the campaign trail, Godfrey reported that supporters of the stroke survivor appeared unfazed by the candidate’s recent health challenges, and that he has now become “more relatable than ever.”
“Which is to say that Fetterman’s just-like-us appeal before his stroke may have only increased in its wake—that knowing what it’s like to go through a major health challenge, to live with a disability, and to navigate the thorny thicket of the American health-care system is actually an asset in voters’ minds, not a liability,” Godfrey wrote.
Three days prior, a Vox writer said Americans were showing their “disability biases” for calling Fetterman’s fitness for office into question and argued that accommodations he may use if elected could “meaningfully benefit” colleagues without disabilities.
Writer Keren Landman admitted that stroke experts told her it is impossible to assess Fetterman’s ability to successfully meet the responsibilities of U.S. Senator, but the use of closed-captioning software during his interview was not necessarily a sign of cognitive impairment.
“Having a disability, whether outwardly visible or not, could make leaders more compassionate toward their most vulnerable constituents, and may lead to more inclusive legislation,” she added.
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently endorsed Fetterman, asserting that there is “no reason” he cannot serve effectively following his stroke, and slammed his opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
“During interviews, Fetterman does often take a few seconds to ensure that he has understood a questioner correctly — and he may take a couple of moments more to collect his thoughts and find the right words — but that should not significantly impair him from performing in his role as a senator. Fetterman knows what his values are and is capable of communicating them.”
“The same cannot be said for his opponent, Mehmet Oz, a man wholly unprepared to be Pennsylvania’s U.S. senator,” The Inquirer’s editorial board continued.
A New York Times guest essay by David M. Perry titled “John Fetterman Is a Disabled American Who Needs Technology to Do His Job. So What?,” was released last week. The essay’s title was later changed to “Why That John Fetterman Interview Caused a Furor.”
Liberal journalists who’ve interviewed Fetterman in the past attempted to debunk NBC News correspondent Dasha Burn’s claim that he had trouble communicating.
“Sorry to say but I talked to @JohnFetterman for over an hour without stop or any aides and this is just nonsense. Maybe this reporter is just bad at small talk,” Vox’s Kara Swisher tweeted.
“I interviewed @JohnFetterman here, he understood everything I was saying and he was funny,” podcast host Molly Jong-Fast said.
“As someone who has recently interviewed him: Fetterman’s comprehension is not at all impaired. He understands everything, it’s just that he reads it (which requires extra acuity, I’d argue) and responds in real time. It’s a hearing/auditory processing challenge,” New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister wrote.
“I interviewed him – there were absolutely no issues. I probably stumbled more,” MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle wrote in a now-deleted tweet.
Fetterman’s wife Gisele claimed Burns’ statements were a “disservice” to her husband, to the disabled community and to Americans in general, and suggested she should face “consequences.”
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfoshn contributed to this report.