Russian state media are proving to be a supportive platform for conspiracies circulating in the United States claiming that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton suffers from mental and physical disorders.
Over the past 10 days, echoing sites like the Drudge Report and InfoWars, at least three Russian TV channels have aired widely debunked reports allegedly proving the 68-year-old Clinton's failing health.
Life, a Russian tabloid-style channel with links to the country's security services, proclaimed on August 14 that "Hillary suffered a seizure." The screen featured two hashtags -- #Clinton and #Seizure.
A months-old video of Clinton surrounded by journalists at a muffin shop in Washington serves as the basis for report. In the video, Clinton, shakes her head in an exaggerated manner after several journalists ask her about a recent meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren -- at the time a potential vice-presidential running mate:
Life, citing the conservative-leaning Fox News, admits that the video is dated, but "journalists aren't appeased because there are only three months left before the election [and] a -- pardon me -- crazy grandma shouldn't be allowed in the White House."
The Life report goes on to cite Fox News and its medical sources who suggest that Clinton suffers from panic attacks.
"Whether she is mentally ill or [ill] in some other way, we can only guess for now," the anchor says to finish her report.
A reporter with the Associated Press news agency, who was at the scene with Clinton, denied rumors of the democratic candidate suffering any kind of attack two days before Life released its segment.
"Perhaps eager to avoid answering or maybe just taken aback by our volume, Clinton responded with an exaggerated motion, shaking her head vigorously for a few seconds," Lisa Lerer wrote. "After the exchange, she took a few more photos, exited the shop and greeted supporters waiting outside.… Where I saw evasiveness, they see seizures."
Russia's Ren TV followed on August 17 with a report in which Clinton was diagnosed with an even more serious illness for a potential commander-in-chief."Those who think Hillary Clinton may suffer from [dementia] received actual proof today," the author of the report says.
The three-minute report cites supposedly leaked medical records allegedly belonging to Clinton's doctor. Reporter Roman Babenkov, admits that Clinton's doctor herself has denied the claim, but to add some weight to the argument the report uses the muffin shop video and footage from an August incident that has recently become popular with the conspiratorially minded.
Animal rights activists protesting at a recent Las Vegas rally appeared to catch Clinton off-guard when they approached her as she was speaking on stage. As her security personnel stepped up to her Clinton went silent:
But Ren TV's report, without mentioning the presence of protesters at the rally, flatly describes Clinton's reaction as a panic attack.
A Slip Of The Tongue
An 11-minute August 21 report on Russia's flagship weekend news program Vesti, covers a range of conspiracy theories related to Clinton, including "uncontrolled laughter."
"Sometimes one feels that Clinton doesn't understand what she is saying," says Vesti's Washington correspondent Valentin Bogdanov, citing an appearance in the city by the former secretary of state earlier this August in which she appeared to misspeak.
"I hope you will compare what I'm proposing to what my husb-...my opponent is talking about," she says in the speech:
Vesti also shows photos of a member of Clinton's Secret Service detail allegedly carrying a diazepam shot typically used as a calming agent.
Nicole Mainor, a Secret Service spokeswoman told CNN on August that the object in the man's hand is nothing more than a flashlight.
Past positive statements by Putin about Clinton's Republican opponent, Donald Trump, and a leak of Democratic National Committee e-mails tied to Russian government hackers have led some Russia-watchers to claim that the Kremlin is actively supporting Trump.
In Russia, though, discussion of the president's health in state media is taboo.
When the hashtag #WhereIsPutin and the phrase "Putin died" circulated online in March 2015 after Putin disappeared for at least 10 days from public view, Russian TV virtually ignored the story.