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A journalist is receiving backlash for her evaluation of Pennsylvania Senate Candidate John Fetterman’s mental state. NBC News reporter Dasha Burns interviewed Fetterman and after their conversations on and off camera she reported “he had a hard time understanding our conversations.”

The Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania had a stroke in May of this year which has since affected his hearing and speech. Fetterman’s team has remained adamant that the Democratic candidate is fine as he continues to campaign. Burns believes this isn’t the case after her own interactions earlier this week.

Burns reported that Fetterman was having issues with small talk before a monitor was set-up to provide closed captioning.

“We had a monitor set up so he could read my questions because he still has lingering auditory processing issues as a result of the stroke, which means he has a hard time understanding what he’s hearing. Now once he reads the question, he’s able to understand. You’ll hear he also still has some problems, some challenges with speech. And I’ll say Katy, that just in some of the small talk prior to the interview before the closed captioning was up and running, it did seem that he had a hard time understanding our conversations.”

After the NBC report, left media across the internet chimed in claiming their experiences were nothing like Burns. Several journalists say Fetterman understood everything and communicated clearly. Burns has been labeled by many as an ‘ableist.’

Tony Katz says the issue Burns was expressing wasn’t geared towards is abilities or disabilities, but rather if he had the cognitive capacity to be an effective leader during this recovery process.

“There’s nothing to defend. The man had a stroke. He needs to get better. But he is not in a place where he gets to be a US Senator. And people say ‘oh, you’re just an ablest…’ the issue here isn’t your ability or disability…

The cognition is everything. Do you understand what your reading? Do you understand what is being read to you? And I don’t believe John Fetterman can. It’s pretty obvious.”

During a follow-up on NBC’s Today Show, Burns pointed out that she was first interview Fetterman had done in-person while every other interview has been via remote video. She added that she wasn’t the only person to notice Fetterman struggling, her team including producer and the crew also mentioned the same issues.

Fetterman told Burns during the interview, he doesn’t believe his recovery will get in the way of his duties.

“I don’t think it’s going to have an impact. I feel like I’m gonna get better and better — every day. And by January, I’m going [to] be, you know, much better. And Dr. Oz is still going to be a fraud.” 

Fetterman is running against Dr. Oz in the crucial Pennsylvania Senate race.