OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The very first photos of Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. John Fetterman after he entered Walter Reed Medical Center for clinical depression were released on Monday, which drew quick responses from several observers.
Some dismissed the photos as “staged,” while others noticed that Fetterman seemed gaunt, hollow, and even frail despite his 6′ 9″ frame.
“Productive morning with Senator Fetterman at Walter Reed discussing the rail safety legislation, Farm Bill, and other Senate business. John is well on his way to recovery and wanted me to say how grateful he is for all the well wishes. He’s laser-focused on PA & will be back soon,” noted Fetterman’s chief of staff, Adam Jentleson on Twitter in a post containing several photos of the Pennsylvania Democrat.
Productive morning with Senator Fetterman at Walter Reed discussing the rail safety legislation, Farm Bill and other Senate business. John is well on his way to recovery and wanted me to say how grateful he is for all the well wishes. He’s laser focused on PA & will be back soon. pic.twitter.com/143uAhoQRx
— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) March 6, 2023
Christina Pushaw, who is the communications director for the campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, responded: “I thought he was in inpatient treatment for a psychiatric emergency? How come they let you in?? And why are they letting him work? He is supposed to be recovering no??”
“He’s not actually reading or discussing anything in those pictures. They came and gave him papers as a prop for a proof of life photo, then sent him back to bed,” another user noted.
“Lol. Do you imagine we can’t recognize a planned photo op when we see it? You think we believe this is a real picture of him working?” said another Twitter user.
Fetterman’s team spent the 2022 election season insisting that their candidate was fit to serve in the Senate and did not have remaining health issues after suffering a major stroke in May. But he was rushed to the hospital last month after “feeling lightheaded,” though his team insists he did not have another stroke, The Washington Post reported.
“He is in good spirits and talking with his staff and family. We will provide more information when we have it,” his communications director, Joe Calvello, said at the time.
He said “initial tests did not show evidence of a new stroke” and that “doctors are running more tests and John is remaining overnight for observation.”
Fetterman was released after a couple of days, but he checked himself back into Walter Reed on the advise of the congressional physician with the chief complaint of clinical depression later in February.
“On Monday, John was evaluated by Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the Attending Physician of the United States Congress. Yesterday, Dr. Monahan recommended inpatient care at Walter Reed. John agreed, and he is receiving treatment on a voluntary basis,” Jentleson noted in a statement, according to CNN.
Fetterman’s wife, Gisele, noted that she is “so proud of him for asking for help,” CNN noted.
“After what he’s been through in the past year, there’s probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John. I’m so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs,” she tweeted. “This is a difficult time for our family, so please respect our privacy.”
In a statement announcing the self-check-in, Fetterman’s chief of staff noted further: “After examining John, the doctors at Walter Reed told us that John is getting the care he needs, and will soon be back to himself.”
He also stated that Fetterman has experienced depression “off and on” over the course of his life, though the issue “only became severe in recent weeks.
In November, a Fetterman advisor admitted after his victory that Fetterman would not be able to perform his job as normal, Breitbart news reported.
“Spotted in Senate basement: John Fetterman He didn’t answer when I asked if he’ll be able to wear his hoodie on Senate floor,” Huffington Post reporter Igor Bobic said in a tweet that caught the eye of Fetterman advisor Rebecca Katz.
“Two things we need to get out of the way: 1) John Fetterman has a suit and will wear it to the Capitol. 2) He is still recovering from a stroke and has lingering auditory processing challenges. The way Hill reporters are used to yelling questions at Senators will not work here,” she said.
Two things we need to get out of the way:
1) John Fetterman has a suit and will wear it to the Capitol.
2) He is still recovering from a stroke and has lingering auditory processing challenges. The way Hill reporters are used to yelling questions at Senators will not work here. https://t.co/0UCe47d9QC
— Rebecca Katz (@RebeccaKKatz) November 15, 2022