Accuracy in Media

A top attack line for mainstream media went down in flames Tuesday when President Trump’s doctor declared him “mentally very sharp” and in “excellent health.”

Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, said the president requested and was given a cognitive test that measured recall, ability to categorize and synthesize information and ability to follow sequences and Trump got 30 out of 30 questions correct. Trump is “very sharp,” the doctor declared and “absolutely … fit for duty,” not just for the remainder of this term, but for another four years if he’s re-elected.”  

Given they could not attack the credibility of the doctor since he was a holdover from the Obama administration who said he sees and talks to the president about his health almost every day, critics were left to simply make up their own stories.

“The president has heart disease,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, said. Gupta, a neurosurgeon who never has examined Trump, said the president needs a medical plan to prevent a major heart problem in the near future.

Gupta said the presence of calcium in Trump’s blood vessels has greatly increased since 2009 and that, according to the coronary calcium score released by the White House, the president already had “well surpassed the threshold for having heart disease and being at risk for a heart attack.”

Jackson, who did examine him, was unequivocal.

“No, he does not have heart disease,” Jackson said. “I think he had great findings across the board, but the one that stands out more than anything to me is his cardiac health. His cardiac health is excellent.”

Newsweek took a different tack.

“Trump at Risk for a Heart Attack With Dangerous Weight and Skyrocketing Cholesterol,” it headlined its story.

“The White House released details about President Donald Trump’s health on Friday after his annual medical exam – and numbers don’t lie. A statement from the White House on Friday is “extremely healthy.” But the results of some basic screening tests look more concerning than those of his predecessor. Specifically, his weight and cholesterol could be putting him at risk for heart disease.”

Dr. Elizabeth Roth, an internist at Massachusetts General Hospital who also has not examined the president, said heart health is among the biggest concerns for any man his age – Trump is 71 – and that several factors contribute to whether he is in imminent danger, including weight and cholesterol.

Trump’s body mass index is 29.9, which is considered overweight – 30 or more on the scale is considered obese. Moreover, his cholesterol overall has risen from 169 to 223 in the last year, and his “bad” cholesterol has jumped from 94 to 143, which “according to the NIH’s Medline Plus,” is “’borderline high.’”

Jackson said he would increase the dose of the statin Trump takes.

“But any benefit,” Newsweek said, “assumes Trump will take it regularly, which … only about 50 percent of people do after six months.”

But hopes were dashed the president would keel over any time soon.

“He falls into a category that portends years of event-free living,” Jackson said.

Jennifer Rubin, a columnist for the Washington Post, derided the cognitive test and suggested an ideological one be imposed instead.

“Trump did not receive a psychiatric exam, and therefore no one can rule out non-physiological mental-health issues (e.g., narcissistic personality disorder, paranoia),” she wrote. Indeed, we “know virtually nothing more about the genesis of Trump’s dysfunctional behavior than we did a week ago.”

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