The Republican Party is getting slammed after an utterly tone-deaf tweet in which the RNC suggested hearing loss or auditory processing disorders could make a candidate like Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman — who is recovering from the effects of a stroke — ineligible to hold office.
The official RNC Research account tweeted out a short clip from an NBC reporter, in which she discusses her interview of Fetterman, who is running against the MAGA Party’s Mehmet Oz.
She’s clearly stating that Fetterman, who suffered a stroke in May and still has some lingering symptoms including difficulty with auditory processing, was completely able to participate in the discussion with the minimal accommodation of a screen that transcribes spoken words into text.
However, editorializing on the clip, the RNC added a headline that asked viewers a question:
Does it sound like John Fetterman is fit to serve in the Senate?
NBC reporter on her interview with John Fetterman: "You'll see he has a screen in front of him that is transcribing my questions as I ask them."
"Once he can read, he can fully understand what I'm asking." pic.twitter.com/sdRBEj56qh
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 11, 2022
The viewers were not impressed.
“Yes, this is ableism,” came one tweet.
Another scolded the RNC for “typical Republican middle school style taunts,” while still others pointed out that this was no different from suggesting someone couldn’t be a Member of Congress with hearing loss, and that blocking people for disabilities and medical conditions is discriminatory.
It’s not just the RNC’s official account getting called out, either. Other conservative commentary relying on ableism to attack Fetterman is getting blasted, too.
In fact, when one reporter tweeted out a quote edited to suggest that Fetterman had been unable to participate in the interview, even the photographer from the interview couldn’t let it pass.
Photog who shot the interview and liveshots here, and this is not what she said. But hey man, enjoy the RT’s. https://t.co/71EtxGU66j
— Paul Rigney (@PaulRRigney) October 12, 2022
The quote cuts out the relevant point, that Fetterman was able to carry out the interview with a simple device to accommodate his disability, and gives the false appearance that he’d be unable to complete the duties of his job.
Of course, with the election only weeks away, the GOP is getting desperate. Polls and poll analysis show Oz trailing significantly behind Fetterman — Race To The White House shows Fetterman polling at an average of 47.9%, to Oz’s 42.2%, and swaying the undecided portion would be a boon for the right.
If that was the goal of the RNC’s ableist post, though, it missed the mark — the response is predominantly one of disgust and distaste.
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.