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January 4th, 2013
10:45 AM ET

Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn weigh in on the backlash against conservatives who said Clinton faked illness

Prior to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's diagnosis of a blood clot, some conservative critics mocked her for having the "benghazi flu" after she suffered a concussion. Now there are demands of an apology from those who said Mrs. Clinton was faking her illness to avoid testifying about the Benghazi tragedy. This morning host of CNN's Reliable Sources and Washington Bureau Chief at Newsweek- Daily Beast Howard Kurtz and Daily Beast contributor and Editor in Chief of the Daily Download Lauren Ashburn join “Starting Point” to discuss whether there should be boundaries on political mockery when someone's health is involved.

Kurtz says that while Clinton’s critics probably feel some embarrassment, “There is a media and political culture now of meanness that kind of rewards this stuff.” He adds, “if you’re some public figure, if you’re some back benching member of congress if you’re some wannabe pundit the more outrageous you are, the meaner you are the more incendiary you are, the more you’re likely to get on TV or be retweeted.” Kurtz goes on to say that it is important to “make a distinction between… the normal political lampooning which goes back to the early days of the Republic and this kind of mean-spirited” behavior in modern-day politics.

Ashburn says this “culture of meanness” has always existed but, “with social media its amplified.” She adds, “You have people who do not have to put their names and attach their names to something that they say that is hateful.”

While Kurtz stresses that everyone should get their say he says the claims “the Secretary of State was making up the fact that she had a concussion – that’s just defensive.” Ashburn adds that perhaps “people don’t realize that if they’re on TV that they’ve gone a little bit too far…they’re looking for the sound bite, the ‘Benghazi flu’ sound bite and then they maybe step off and say ‘wow I think I just called her a liar.”

With President Barack Obama’s upcoming inauguration around the corner some politicians and pundits have already began to look towards 2016. Ashburn says in Clinton’s case there are many who believe she will run for president and “people are already beginning the attack” and laying the groundwork for the 2016 election.

Filed under: Benghazi • Benghazi investigation
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