Statement of Reagan Biographer Craig Shirley on Dr. Ronny Jackson

For Immediate Release
January 17, 2018

Statement of Reagan Biographer Craig Shirley

Trump White House physician “wrong” about Reagan

 Washington, D.C. – White House doctor Ronny Jackson may be an expert in the medical field, but he gets failing grades for his history. In an interview with the White House press corps yesterday, Dr. Jackson falsely said President Ronald Reagan may have had “some evidence of cognitive impairment toward the end of his presidency.” This is unprofessional, pseudo-historical, wrong, and a flat out lie. As a doctor, he of all people should know not to examine, diagnose, or assume anyone’s physical or mental health from afar. He was not President Reagan’s doctor, and every one of Reagan’s attending medical professionals attested to his mental vigor through his eight years in office.

There is an informal term of the ethics manual of the American Psychiatric Association called the “Goldwater Rule,” named after Barry Goldwater. This section of the manual states, “It is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”

Perhaps there should be an update to it, called the Reagan Rule: It is unethical to assume, based on a lack of evidence and a lack of knowledge of the individual, to diagnose or assume any physical or mental impairment of someone you never knew or met or treated.