NBC News reports after interview: Fetterman ‘still has a hard time understanding conversations’

Critics who say Democrat Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman, a recent survivor of a stroke, isn’t fit to hold office may have a point after all.

This week NBC’s Dasha Burns tried interviewing Fetterman for a typical media puff piece, but something happened.

Previewing the interview on MSNBC this Tuesday, Burns explained that, one, Fetterman needed closed captioning to complete the interview, and two, without closed captioning, he had difficulty following along with the conversation.


“This is the first time that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has sat down in person for an interview with a journalist since his stroke. Now, Fetterman has always been an unconventional candidate, but this is a particularly unconventional interview,” she said.

“I sat down with him at his home in May, before the stroke. This was very different, including literally what the Senate looked like. You’ll hear him talk in a moment as I preview our conversation about needing closed captioning for this interview.”

She continued, “We had a monitor set up so he could read my questions because he still has lingering auditory processing issues as a result of the stroke, which means he has a hard time understanding what he’s hearing. Now once he reads the question, he’s able to understand. You’ll hear he also still has some problems, some challenges with speech.”

“I’ll say that just in some of the small talk prior to the interview before the closed captioning was up and running, it did seem that he had a hard time understanding our conversations and I’ll just let you take a listen to some of what we talked about here.”

During the interview, Fetterman sought to defend himself from the accusation that his auditory issues make him unfit to serve in office.

“Every now and then I’ll miss a word, every now and then, or sometimes I’ll maybe mush two words together. As long as I have captioning, I’m able to understand exactly what’s being asked, but even after the stroke, immediately after that, I was able to read everything and I haven’t lost any memories or anything like that. It’s just really the lingering issue that I have,” he said.

There’s both good news and bad news for him. The good news, according to Burns, is that stroke “experts” say it’s possible to recover from such issues.

The bad news is that Fetterman refuses to turn over his medical records, so there’s no way to know the precise details of his own affliction.

“I’ve spoken with stroke experts. They say folks can fully recover from that, but the caveat that every expert gives is that they can’t fully assess a patient without details on their health records — without that information that the campaign has yet to disclose.,” Burns explained Tuesday.

“We’ve asked multiple times for medical records, for interviews with someone from his medical team. Those requests have been denied to NBC News and other outlets that have requested this as well,” she added.

His refusal to release his records has become a huge deal, with even the editorial board of one of his local papers — the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — complaining.

“Of all the issues defining the U.S. Senate race between Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman, Mr. Fetterman’s health should rank close to last. Even so, it has loomed large in an increasingly tight contest for a potentially pivotal U.S. Senate seat. Mr. Fetterman can diminish the influence of this distracting side-issue by releasing his medical records now and allowing reporters to question his physician,” the board wrote in an editorial over the weekend.

“In September, a Post-Gazette editorial called on both U.S. Senate nominees to release their medical records. Mr. Oz, 62, released his two days later, indicating he was in good health. Mr. Fetterman, 53, who suffered a life-threatening stroke in May, has not released his,” the board editor.

During the interview with Burns, all Fetterman had to say for himself regarding this was that he thinks he’s getting better and will be totally OK by January.

“I feel like I’m gonna get better and better — every day. And by January, I’m going [to] be, you know, much better. And Dr. Oz is still going to be a fraud,” he said.

His opponent, Republican Pennsylvania Senate Dr. Mehmet Oz, may perhaps be a fraud — that’s up to voters to ultimately decide — but he’s one who has turned in his medical records, who speaks normally, and who hasn’t been trying to cover up a severe medical condition …

Vivek Saxena


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