This author, with one exception, has interviewed all the Presidential Physicians from John Hutton (Ronald Reagan) to Donald Trump (Sean Conley). In my dealings with these doctors, I discovered that, while they served in the White House, they were both apolitical and devoid of partisan bias. Such a stance was considered integral to their role as guardians of the medical well being of the Chief Executive. In the past, the Washington press corps respected this impartiality, and treated these doctors with courtesy and dignity.
This behavior has changed. The venom that the Washington reporters directed towards President Trump evolved into overt hostility towards his presidential physicians, who were confronted with disbelief, skepticism, and anger. Both Doctors Ronny Jackson and Sean Conley had targets on their back. The media people, biased and politicized, tried to project their unprofessional attitudes upon the two extraordinarily professional physicians.
Sean Conley was brutalized in press conferences, on TV, and in print. I know this first-hand. When Donald Trump was hospitalized with COVID, I received a dozen text, email, and phone inquiries about his qualifications (or rather lack of). They doubted his transparency while discussing the president’s medical condition. The physicians to Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and John F. Kennedy were devoid of transparency and boldly lied again and again. I could only conclude that the current crop of newsmen’s education was grossly deficient in American History.
A second assault against Dr. Conley was his rank. He was a Navy Commander (O 5). An ‘investigative reporter” from a national newspaper claimed that this ‘lowly’ rank indicated the doctor’s lack of stature. I rebutted this guy’s assertion that prior Presidential Physicians were either Admirals or Generals (O 7) by informing him that flag rank was bestowed only upon the completion of their president’s term in office.
Although the Physician to the President usually has been a Navy Captain or an Army (Air Force) Colonel (O 6), this rank is no longer mandated. Several years ago due to a budgetary reduction in officer lines, the Physician to the President no longer mandates a O 6 rank; and thus Dr. Conley was fixed as an O 5.