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Fox News
Fox News
11 Feb 2023


Since being sworn in as senator, suspicions about his health compromising his ability to work appear have been confirmed. Fetterman reportedly felt lightheaded and was hospitalized from Wednesday to Friday, after he had struggled for weeks to adjust to his role as senator, needing to rely on technology for basic communication with colleagues and staff. 

The same day he was released from the hospital, the New York Times published an article, titled "Fetterman, Recovering After Stroke, Labors to Adjust to Life in the Senate," which reported on the "strains of his recovery" affecting his adjustment to the Senate and how campaigning set him back. 

Pennsylvania Democratic Senatorial candidate John Fetterman waves onstage at a watch party during the midterm elections at Stage AE in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 8, 2022. 

Pennsylvania Democratic Senatorial candidate John Fetterman waves onstage at a watch party during the midterm elections at Stage AE in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 8, 2022.  (ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

FETTERMAN HEARS VOICES LIKE THE TEACHERS IN 'PEANUTS' AFTER STROKE, STRUGGLES TO ADJUST TO SENATE LIFE: REPORT

According to The Times, Fetterman's "physical impairment and serious mental health challenges [] have rendered the transition extraordinarily challenging — even with the accommodations that have been made to help him adapt." 

"He has had to come to terms with the fact that he may have set himself back permanently by not taking the recommended amount of rest during the campaign," the article said. "And he continues to push himself in ways that people close to him worry are detrimental."

The hospitalization and new revelations about his impairment stand in stark contrast to what Fetterman, his supporters and the media claimed about his health and ability to serve in the Senate while on the campaign trail.

In early October 2022, Fetterman said in an NBC News interview with Dasha Burns that the challenges he faced from the stroke wouldn’t affect his ability to perform his duties as a senator in the future, even claiming that he would be "much better" by January - which became a frequent campaign refrain.

"I don’t think it’s going to have an impact," he said. "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."

Burns interviewed Fetterman using closed captioning, but told viewers the candidate had a hard time making "small talk" before the interview, earning her the wrath of liberal journalists for being the first one to speak up about his true condition. 

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor and Democratic candidate for US Senator John Fetterman speaks to supporters at a "Get Out the Vote" rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor and Democratic candidate for US Senator John Fetterman speaks to supporters at a "Get Out the Vote" rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (BRANDEN EASTWOOD/AFP via Getty Images)

Vox journalist Kara Swisher, also a stroke survivor, reacted by tweeting, "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."

YouTube personality Brian Tyler Cohen shared his interview and said, "The notion that he wasn’t able to understand is mind-numbingly false."

Fetterman's wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, even said that Burns should face "consequences" for her reporting. She claimed the correspondent's comments were "appalling to the entire disability community and I think to journalism."

LIBERALS RUSH TO DEFEND FETTERMAN AS REPORTERS QUESTION HIS MENTAL FITNESS FOLLOWING NBC INTERVIEW

Meanwhile, two top Democratic senators vouched for him in mid-October.

When Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., was asked if he thought Fetterman was healthy enough to serve in the Senate, he replied, "Yes, I do." He also claimed to have had a "long conversation with him" on the phone. He declared, "John is ready for this job."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., endorsed his health as well.

"I'm not a physician, but I believe he is healthy," Blumenthal said. "Based on what I've seen and heard — no, I'm not here to be an expert — but the information that I've received is he's perfectly healthy and capable of serving the United States Senate."

But, during his only debate with Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, Fetterman had trouble communicating, stumbling over words and struggling to explain his positions. 

Pennsylvania Senate candidates John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz participated in a debate on October 25, 2022 in Harrisburg, PA.

Pennsylvania Senate candidates John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz participated in a debate on October 25, 2022 in Harrisburg, PA. (NewsNation)

When asked about his mental fitness on the debate stage, he said, "I believe if my doctor believes that I'm fit to serve, and that's what I believe is appropriate." 

He continued, "With two weeks before the election, you know, I have run a campaign and I have been transparent about being very open, about the fact where I use captioning and I believe that, again, my doctors, the real doctors that I believe, they all believe that I'm ready to be serve [sic]."

Pressed by the moderators on whether he would release his medical records for Pennsylvania voters to see, Fetterman said, "Again, my doctor believes that I'm fit to be serving and that's what I believe is where I am standing."

Unmentioned was that fact that his medical report was written by Dr. Clifford Chen, who, records show, had donated more than $1,300 to his campaign that year. Dr. Chen wrote that Fetterman "is recovering well from his stroke and his health has continued to improve."

Following Fetterman’s concerning debate, doctors on CNN's "New Day" praised his "remarkable" and "transparent" performance, suggesting that anyone worried about Fetterman’s health issues was merely "uncomfortable" with watching "somebody recovering from a stroke in public." 

ABC News and The New York Times rushed to defend his debate performance by running articles about bias against people with disabilities.

In other commentary, liberal media figures again came to Fetterman's defense, blasting anyone who criticized his debate performance. 

FETTERMAN DEBATE FIASCO LEAVES SOME LIBERAL JOURNALISTS FUMING: 'HOW TO BULLY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES'

Swisher admitted, "John had a bad night, no question," but she was quick to slam those skeptical about Fetterman’s health and recovery, tweeting at another reporter, "Both John and I will recover from our strokes and be fine. You’ll never recover from being an a--hole. If you do suffer a major illness, maybe you’ll grok your casual cruelty."

A former Democratic Senate aide told Fox News at the time that Fetterman would only get better as time went on over a six-year term. The aide defended the Senate as not being too fast-paced for Fetterman by its very nature.

"The Senate is called the world's most deliberative body for a reason. They're not fast-paced, hectic, it's not the House," the aide said. "He's going to be in a body that's intentionally meant for deliberative thought, long-form answers, well-thought-out legislation."

The former Democratic aide also tried to defend Fetterman by saying, "He won't be the senator with the most debilitating problems, mental issues, cognitive issues currently or in the time that I've been in the Senate. I'm not saying that's a good thing… but he won't be the first."

Fetterman communications director Joe Calvello offered his assesessment, "Unfortunately for Dr. Oz and the pathetic Republicans who are desperately rooting against his recovery, John is getting better every day and he is going to win this race to be Pennsylvania's next senator. In January, John is going to be even better — and Dr. Oz will still be a fraud."

JOHN FETTERMAN HASN'T GIVEN A SINGLE INTERVIEW SINCE ELECTION, AMID QUESTIONS ABOUT FITNESS

In the final days of October, President Biden himself endorsed Fetterman’s health, suggesting he has nothing to hide.

"Fetterman is everything that he appears to be. You know where he stands. He has great courage. He has no reluctance to say what he thinks. He’s my kind of guy. I think he is going to be fine," he said.

The president added, "He just keeps getting better and better. He had a stroke - he’s recovering."

Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman speaks to supporters in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, a day after his debate with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman speaks to supporters in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, a day after his debate with Dr. Mehmet Oz. (John Fetterman / Twitter)

Appearing on an episode of The View just days before the election, Fetterman claimed he had been transparent about his health and was ready for the job. 

"You know, we’ve been running a campaign, and I think we have been very transparent in all of our doctors’ beliefs, both from June and also in October. All agree I am fit to serve," he said.

The denial of his health condition even continued after the election with MSNBC host Katy Tur floating the idea of "Fetterman as a nominee at some point for president." 

Alexander Hall is an associate editor for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to Alexander.hall@fox.com.