Things started off promisingly when Dr. Allen Frances came on Brian Stelter’s CNN program. Unlike some other TV psychiatrists like Bandy X. Lee, Frances said that he doesn’t believe in diagnosing President Trump and other politicians from the comfort of the couch. Frances said it does a disservice to both the science of psychiatry and people struggling with mental illness when doctors violate the “Goldwater Rule,” which prohibits mental health doctors from making these sorts of claims.
“Well, I think ‘medicalizing’ politics has three very dire consequences. The first is that it stigmatizes the mentally ill. I’ve known thousands of patients, almost all of them are well-behaved, well-mannered good people. Trump is none of these. Lumping that is a terrible insult to the mentally ill and they have enough problems and stigma as it is,” said Frances.
Okay, so he clearly has an agenda against Trump, but we expected that. Why else would he be invited on CNN?
But then things went completely off the rails.
“Second, calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we’re crazy for having elected him and even crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist,” Frances continued. “Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin, Mao in the last century. He may be responsible for many more million deaths than they were.”
Oh. Oh, dear.
One might have expected Stelter to step in at that point and remind the good doctor that Mao Zedong, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin were, together, responsible for more than 75 million deaths in the 20th century, and that Trump would have to do a whole lot of killing to get to their level. Maybe he could stop the program, throw to commercial, and come back with an apology for those viewers who still expect some modicum of factual content on CNN. Not sure who those viewers could possibly be at this point, but you know, there are always those eternal optimists.
Instead, Stelter said nothing about the claim, later defending himself on social media by blaming it on technical problems.
“I agree that I should have interrupted after that line. I wish I had heard him say it, but I was distracted by tech difficulties (that’s why the show open didn’t look the way it normally does, I had two computers at the table, etc). Not hearing the comment is my fault,” Stelter wrote.
Yeah. Funny the kinds of things that go “unheard” on CNN. We have to imagine that Stelter’s ears would have perked up if Frances said the same thing about Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren.
But maybe selective hearing is a late-stage symptom of Trump Derangement Syndrome, in which case, no, Brian, it’s not your fault.
You’re a victim.