The Daily Scoop: Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves health reputation to chance

Plus: Elon Musk unironically threatens to sue the Anti-Defamation League for defamation, undeterred Burning Man attendees get burned by bad weather.

Businessman holding black alarm clock with clockwise countdown from work to retirement. Mitch McConnell's health woes are causing retirement murmurings.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) froze up again recently when speaking to reporters in Covington, Ky., in late August. He was unresponsive for about 30 seconds, at which point one of his aides asked him if he was OK. He resumed his responses only with the help of an aide, The Hill reported.

He had another freeze-up in July during a press conference at the Capitol. McConnell was seen by a Capitol physician recently who confirmed that he does not have a seizure disorder and did not suffer from a stroke, per The Hill.

“There are no changes recommended in treatment protocols as you continue recovery from your March 2023 fall,” Brian Monahan, the Capitol physician, wrote in a letter to McConnell.

Why it matters: McConnell’s episodes have raised questions about whether the senate minority leader is fit to serve. Most Senate Republicans back him saying that he is in good health.

“We may expect that Mitch McConnell will check out for 20 seconds a day. But the other 86,380 seconds in the day, he does a pretty darn good job,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, noted, ABC News reported. “I’m firmly behind his remaining as our leader.”

McConnell has left room for doubt by not addressing the matter head-on. Despite his doctor’s word, the recurring freeze-ups have left many murmuring about term limits, as well as limitations around age and health — even for other legislators of similar age. President Joe Biden was also caught in the fray.

Even conservative publication The National Review has been running editorials calling for term limits — and specifically for McConnell to step down.

“The time has come for the Kentucky senator, after his long, impressive run, to make the decision to step aside from leadership,” the editorial read.

Opinions aside, McConnell needs to speak to his stakeholders and constituents and let them know how he’s really doing and perhaps speak to broader issues such as ageism, the limitations of age and health, and term limits. His doctors’ note, so to speak, does little to repair one’s image after two very public health issues. Letting people know what’s going on is critical as a public figure to maintain transparency and accountability. The longest-serving Senate leader and his aides need to address misconceptions about his health or rumors about him withholding something from the public instead of leaving the public to wonder.

Editor’s Top Picks:

  • Days of torrential rain muddied up the Burning Man festival (Aug. 29-Sept. 5) held at a Nevada desert site. The weather slightly dampened the eclectic mood as tens of thousands of people — or their vehicles — got stuck for hours at the end of the festival due to weather-related road delays. Despite the weather elements, some people made the best out of the situation. “The rain provided an amazing opportunity to walk, to move more slowly, to connect with people who you may not have,” Donovan McGrath, a Los Angeles-based yoga instructor, said. Bad weather aside, the Burning Man brand is still intact as people more than likely plan to return in 2024.
  • The federated universe, or “fediverse,” an interconnected, decentralized universe for social media sites, is closer than you think. The primary feature of the fediverse is that users on a particular server can connect with users on other servers and the software doesn’t matter. The fediverse, not entirely new in concept, is gaining steam as X, formerly known as Twitter, made unpopular choices. Mastodon, already on the fediverse, is leading the way. BBC joined Mastodon. Threads wants to join the fediverse, too. Brands may need to prepare to retool their comms strategies as this realm takes off. But is this another ill-fated buzzword in the same vein as “metaverse”?
  • Elon Musk is threatening to sue the Anti-Defamation League for, no joke, defamation. He claims that the nonprofit organization’s statements on hate speech increasing on X, formerly known as Twitter, are impacting advertising revenue by 60%. “To clear our platform’s name on the matter of anti-Semitism, it looks like we have no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League … oh the irony!” he said on X. Brands don’t want to be affiliated with a platform that doesn’t have a strong stance on hate speech. We’ll be following this lawsuit closely.


Sherri Kolade is a writer at Ragan Communications. When she is not with her family, she enjoys watching Alfred Hitchcock-style films, reading and building an authentically curated life that includes more than occasionally finding something deliciously fried. Follow her on LinkedIn. Have a great PR story idea? Email her at


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