The Truth-O-Meter Says:

The media "widely overlooked" comments made by former President Bill Clinton that Hillary Clinton had a terrible concussion that took six months to recover from.  

Brit Hume on Sunday, May 18th, 2014 in comments on "Fox News Sunday"

Brit Hume: Media overlooked 'terrible concussion' comments by Bill Clinton

The top political story from the week was Karl Rove’s comments about Hillary Clinton’s health following a concussion she suffered in December 2012. On the Sunday shows, there was much talk about whether the country should spend much time talking about Clinton’s health.

Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume said there is more to be learned and noted that former President Bill Clinton himself revealed that the concussion was "terrible" and required six months of treatment. Hume said that is "new news" that had been "widely overlooked."

While Bill Clinton’s quip that Republicans thought Hillary Clinton is auditioning for a part on The Walking Dead "was reported everywhere," Hume said, "the part where he said that she underwent what I guess was six months of physical therapy to recover from the concussion, a ‘terrible concussion,’ was new news. And of course, it was widely overlooked."

In this fact-check, we examine whether, as Hume said, much of the media failed to report those additional details from President Clinton.

Television and cable

Fox News had an interview segment specifically about Clinton’s reference to six months and a terrible concussion but fans of other networks got a similar message.

ABC News said Clinton went beyond defending his wife.

"The former president revealed that his wife’s injury 'required six months of very serious work to get over,' he said during a question-and-answer session at the Peterson Foundation in Washington.

"'They went to all this trouble to say she had staged what was a terrible concussion that required six months of very serious work to get over,' he said. 'It’s something she never low-balled with the American people, never tried to pretend it didn’t happen.'"

CNN noted that Clinton had shared details that guaranteed the issue would remain alive.

"But he went on to say this, proving this was no minor fall: 'She had sustained what was a terrible concussion. Required six months of very serious work to get over.'"

CBS News presented Clinton’s words in full.

"'She certainly seems to have more stamina now and there's nothing to it,' Clinton said during a question and answer session with PBS' Gwen Ifill. 'I was sort of dumbfounded. They went to all this trouble to say she had staged what was a terrible concussion that required six months of very serious work to get over, something she never lowballed with the American people, never tried to pretend didn't happen.'"

NBC News, MSNBC, and PBS all presented similar accounts. NBC Nightly News included Clinton’s quote during its broadcast as did PBS NewsHour. We also found mentions on CNN’s Out Front and MSNBC’s PoliticsNation and The Ed Show.

Major newspapers and wire services

Ditto basically for major U.S. newspapers and wire services.

The Associated Press led with Bill Clinton’s reference to a long recovery.

"Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday his wife Hillary took six months to recover from a 2012 concussion, adding she is now 'stronger than I am' as he dismissed GOP strategist Karl Rove's comments about her health."

Hundreds of print and broadcast services across the country carry the AP’s stories.

The New York Times noted in its coverage the significance of everything Clinton said.

"He did acknowledge that Mrs. Clinton had suffered a 'very serious concussion,' and that it had taken her months to fully recover."

The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Clinton, speaking at a forum on budget issues Wednesday in Washington, also offered some fresh insights into the December 2012 incident, saying that Hillary Clinton suffered a 'terrible concussion' that entailed 'six months of very serious work' toward recovery.

The Los Angeles Times did not give top billing to the detail about six months of recovery but did report it. The New York Daily News included the former president’s description, writing, "She endured six months of ‘very serious work’" to recover from a concussion and blood clot but now ‘she is strong; she is doing great,’ he (Clinton) said."

Online news services

Ditto, too, for major online websites.

The liberal Huffington Post had a story with this headline: "Bill Clinton Insults Rove, But Acknowledges Hillary's Health Is 'Serious Issue'."

"The 42nd president also revealed that he knows questions about his wife's health and age can't be ignored as the 2016 presidential race comes into focus. In fact, he called it 'a serious issue.'"

A few sentences later, the article quoted Clinton in full, speaking of "a terrible concussion" that "required six months of serious work to get over."

Politico also provided Clinton’s complete description in the third paragraph of its article. Talking Points Memo mentioned the six-month recovery period, although further down in its story.

Our ruling

Hume said much of the media overlooked that Bill Clinton said his wife had suffered a terrible concussion that required six months of work before she recovered.

While Bill Clinton’s Walking Dead zinger may have gotten more airtime (we didn’t check), Hume is wrong to assert that the media ignored Clinton’s substantive comments.

Clinton’s comments were covered in print by the nation’s biggest newspapers, in online articles, and on the TV networks and elsewhere.

We rate the claim False.

About this statement:

Published: Sunday, May 18th, 2014 at 3:35 p.m.

Subjects: Candidate Biography


Fox News, Fox News Sunday, May 18, 2014

ABC News, Hillary Clinton Took 6 Months to ‘Get Over’ Concussion, Bill Says of Timeline, May 14, 2014

Los Angeles Times, Bill Clinton says GOP trying to cast Hillary in 'The Walking Dead', May 14, 2014

CBS News, Bill Clinton brushes off Karl Rove's brain injury comments, May 14, 2014

PBS, Newshour, Bill Clinton reflects on fixing the wealth gap, embracing the Affordable Care Act and Hillary’s health, May 14, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times, Bill Clinton on 'brain injury' comment: 'Whatever it takes', May 14, 2014

Huffington Post, Bill Clinton Insults Rove, But Acknowledges Hillary's Health Is 'Serious Issue', May 14, 2014

CNN, Inside Politics: Clinton war of words -- 'It's just the beginning', May 16, 2014

NBC, Bill Clinton 'Dumbfounded' by Hillary Brain Damage Talk, May 14, 2014

Politico, Bill Clinton: ‘Nothing’ to Rove remarks, May 14, 2014

Wall Street Journal, Bill Clinton Says Wife's Health Is Great, May 14, 2014

New York Times, Bill Clinton Rebuts Speculation on His Wife’s Health, May 14, 2014

New York Daily News, "Hil brain talk bonkers: Bill," May 15, 2014, via Nexis

Fox News, Bill Clinton mocks Republicans for Hillary health questions, May 14, 2014

Fox News, Hillary looks rusty at her coming out party, May 15, 2014

Talking Points Memo, Bill Clinton Laughs Off Rove's Wild Speculation About Hillary's Health, May 14, 2014

Associated Press, Bill Clinton vouches for Hillary's health, May 14, 2014

Fox News, The Real Story, May 14, 2014, via Critical Mention

Fox News, The Kelley File, May 15, 2014, via Critical Mention

MSNBC, Politics Nation, May 14, 2014, via Critical Mention

MSNBC, The Ed Show, May 15, 2015, via Critical Mention

PunditFact, Rove: Clinton hospital stay and glasses point to traumatic brain injury, May 14, 2014

Written by: Jon Greenberg
Researched by: Jon Greenberg
Edited by: Aaron Sharockman

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